Whitehorse, Yukon

Monday, November 23, 1998 - 1:30 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.



Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Are there any tributes?

Introduction of visitors.

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?


Mr. Ostashek: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the Yukon economy is in a current state of crisis requiring immediate action by governments in order to maintain and preserve the territory's dwindling, skilled labour force;

THAT a two-day economic summit hosted by the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment be established in the first quarter of 1999;

THAT on the first day of the summit, representatives of the Yukon's mining industry, tourism industry, forestry industry, building contractors, road construction contractors, engineering services, mining and tourism associations, respective chambers of commerce, the Association of Yukon Communities and other Yukoners who wish to make presentations on the following agenda items:

1) government services that can be delivered more cost effectively and efficiently by the private sector;

2) government legislation, policies and procedures that are adversely affecting the economy;

3) government projects that could be advanced to create employment; and

4) "Yukon Savings Investment Plan" and other tax measures and financial incentives to kick-start the economy; and

THAT on the second day, the Government Leader and his ministers, the Minister of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and her officials, First Nations chiefs who wished to participate, be invited to respond to the presentations.

Speaker: Are there any notices of motion?

Are there any statements by ministers?


Nursing education bursary

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Mr. Speaker, fostering healthy communities and creating jobs and training opportunities for Yukon people are top priorities for our government.

I rise today to announce a new policy that reflects these priorities.

Last week, I advised the House of a change in job reclassification for nurse practitioners in rural communities, retroactive to April 1, 1997. Combined with an active recruiting program across Canada, this reclassification will help address the current nursing shortage in the short term.

Today, I am pleased to announce a further significant initiative to help provide long-term solutions to ensure the Yukon communities have access to professional nursing services.

We will soon introduce a nursing education bursary program to encourage Yukon students to study for careers in nursing. Bursaries will be available to young people starting their post-secondary education and to mature students who want to pursue further education.

With an annual bursary fund of $25,000, support will be available starting in the 1999-2000 academic year. Full-time nursing students will be eligible for up to $5,000 a year, for a maximum of four years, with a return for service commitment built in. Funds will also be available for nurses taking correspondence or extension studies.

We also anticipate providing non-financial support by encouraging students interested in nursing to gain some practical experience by volunteering in health care settings. This experience will be considered in making decisions on bursary support.

Wherever possible, bursary recipients will be able to get relevant work experience through summer employment in the health care field. We will also make an effort to provide mentors, or buddies, to help bursary recipients in their career development.

We will work with our various partners to design the bursary program. These partners will include the Whitehorse General Hospital, Yukon Registered Nurses Association, Health Partnership Committee, which represents the Council of Yukon First Nations and individual First Nations.

We recognize the enormous contribution nurses make in protecting the health and safety of Yukon people in all of our communities.

Through this announcement, and others I expect to make in the near future, this government is demonstrating the value we place on that contribution.

Thank you.

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Yukon Party caucus, and office of the official opposition, I'm pleased to take this opportunity to respond to the ministerial statement, regarding the nursing education bursary, and I'm pleased to offer our full support to this initiative.

With an ageing population, with people living longer, and the fact that the size of our families is decreasing, there's an ever-growing concern about meeting the future health care needs of our population. Starting in the year 2011, it is expected that the number of retired people - those over 65 years of age - will more than double, as compared to close to four million individuals now.

Evidence in a recent study on the past, present and future of registered nurses in Canada gives clear evidence that without some intervention there will be a serious shortage of nurses within the next decade. According to one estimate, we could be short some 59,000 to 113,000 nurses by the year 2011, as a result of retiring nurses in the workforce, fewer young people entering the profession, and a rapidly ageing population with their ever-increasing health care needs.

Furthermore, it is estimated that the demand for registered nursing services will grow by some 46 percent between 1993 and 2011, with the increased use of hospitals.

Across Canada today, there is a shortage of nurse practitioners. As time marches on, this problem will only get worse unless there is some intervention to encourage students to study for careers in nursing.

I mentioned last week one of the largest challenges faced by rural Yukon is that of the attraction and retention of health care professionals to our respective communities. In light of the current shortage of nurses in the territory, we on this side of the House believe that it is critical that efforts are made to fill these vacant positions.

At the same time, we believe that it is equally important that we do as much as possible to increase the numbers of northerners qualified to fill health and social service positions. To do so, work must be done to encourage students and other northerners to pursue post-secondary education and relevant programs.

The initiative to introduce a nursing education bursary program is a solid move that will help encourage Yukon students to study nursing and help create some stability in our pool of health care services.

In review this statement, I do have a few observations and some questions that I hope the minister can answer in his rebuttal.

The minister stated that the annual bursary fund would be in the amount of $25,000 per year. As full-time nursing students would be eligible for $5,000 a year for a maximum of four years, the amount of $25,000 could easily and realistically be made available to four or five students within the first four years of the program. Has any thought been given to expanding the amount of the annual bursary to expand the number of students who may be eligible to receive these funds, if there are those eligible? What are the requirements for eligibility into this bursary program?

The minister made reference to a return of service commitment, which is a good move, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps the minister could elaborate on how long this service commitment would be for, and what are the kind of penalties if they don't fulfill their obligations? And how does this program dovetail with the student grant? Are students eligible to receive a bursary? Are they also eligible for the Yukon grant? And will the program be made available to existing nurses practising in Yukon who wish to upgrade their skills and become, for example, a nurse practitioner in our communities?

As the minister is fully aware, the Government of the Northwest Territories has identified the issue of recruitment and retention of physicians and other health care workers to their respective communities as a priority, and they have done extensive work to meet this challenge. I sent a copy of that study, the N.W.T. initiative, over to the minister, Mr. Speaker.

Similar to the Yukon, the N.W.T. offers scholarship opportunities for nursing and is currently reviewing other opportunities that would match the students' objectives with the goal of having more graduates return home.

Initiatives such as undergraduate sponsorships are being reviewed that could provide an opportunity to sponsor one or two northern students in a medical residency program. Summer employment or internships are also being explored. The N.W.T. offers a nursing graduate mentor program that matches recent northern-resident graduates with experienced nurses. Perhaps this is one of the initiative that was briefly passed over in this ministerial statement. Could the minister elaborate on that, Mr. Speaker?

This not only allows graduates to draw on and learn from the experience of those already in the system, but gives new nurses much-needed experience in a safe and supportive environment.

These are but a few of the initiatives that our neighbours to the east are working on. I would hope that our officials are talking with these neighbours of ours to draw upon some of their good ideas.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus to respond to the ministerial statement on nursing bursaries.

Mr. Speaker, a $25,000 bursary for nursing education for Yukoners could go a long way to help alleviate the nursing shortage in the Yukon. It could go a long way, but only if this government, along with Whitehorse General Hospital and other health care providers, makes the conscious decision to hire these grads when they finish their studies.

Typically in the past, Mr. Speaker, both this government and other health care providers have not hired Yukoners with nursing diplomas or have not hired Yukoners with no experience in nursing. That is something that we have to develop along with providing a bursary. We have to assure Yukoners that if they come back to the Yukon with their degree or diploma in nursing, they will be hired here.

What this government has to decide is what is their commitment in return to services. Is it three months? Is it a year, or is it longer? What is the commitment to continuing education in this field.

Mr. Speaker, we also have to go a little bit further than that. In 1987, 1990 and again in 1993, there were feasibility studies undertaken to assess the need for a Yukon or northern nursing program. The last study in 1993 was done in conjunction with the Northwest Territories.

The N.W.T. went on to develop a nursing program, but we didn't, mainly because there was no shortage of nurses at the time, and diploma grads and experienced RNs were not being hired by the Yukon health employers.

Mr. Speaker, if we had started a nursing program at Yukon College in 1993, like the N.W.T. did, we wouldn't be in this bind now - but we didn't. So maybe we should start looking at this initiative now and, in the meantime, we should make a concerted effort in the Yukon to start hiring Yukoners who were trained as nurses elsewhere in Canada.

We need to send a clear message from this government as to what type of health care workers we need to train, develop and hire here in the Yukon. We had a CNA program that ran from 1963 to 1995, and that's gone. Since then, we trained home support workers in 1997 and in 1998, and this fall we are running an alcohol and drug workers addictions program service training program.

Certainly we have to meet emerging needs in the health care field, but we also have to assess our continuing needs as well. Resources are limited, but we can stretch those resources by developing a plan for our future needs. Plans are good.

A plan will help us allocate resources like staff, curriculum dollars and student dollars, remembering always that not only do we have to develop programs but fund students to take the programs if they cannot afford it.

So sure, Mr. Speaker, the bursary is a good idea, but we have to do more. We have to plan for the future.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'd like to thank the members opposite for their comments. I think there were certainly some comments there that we have been anticipating, in terms of future development. I think I indicated in this that this is one step of what we're looking at: a multi-faceted program.

We're fully aware that there are going to be further requirements. I think, with regard to this, the nursing bursary program really originated from the fact that, essentially right now, there's only one program, and it's a somewhat modest program, to support people going into nursing careers. I think what we wanted to do was demonstrate that nursing is a valued occupation, and we wanted to try to provide a little more support.

We are not anticipating that this would interfere with the student grant. We're also taking a look down the line at other things that we can be doing in the whole field of health-provider education.

As I said, we'll be hoping to bring some things forward there.

With regard to some of the specific requirements about returning to service, what we'd like to do is discuss that with the hospital. We'd like to discuss it with the Yukon Registered Nurses Association. We're going to be asking for their assistance in designing this program - for example, entry criteria and so on and so forth. We're going to be discussing with our health partners and our First Nation partners how we can design this program.

What we wanted to do right now was to indicate at this point that there will be assistance for people who might be considering going into health careers, and perhaps this will give them an incentive as they're contemplating their future academic plans at the end of this year. Perhaps this will be just one more incentive in that regard.

Yes, we're also looking a pursuing - this might not be exclusively for students, but also for people who might want to upgrade or take other courses - the whole question of professional development in some greater extent.

I also met on Friday with the president of Yukon College at a presentation that there was for our supported residential living workers. I discussed with the president the opportunities to sit down with the college to discuss what kind of outreach, what kind of programs we could be looking at in terms of health care providers in the future. I have a future meeting scheduled later on in December where we'll explore this in greater detail.

We have been looking at what other jurisdictions are doing. With regard to the Northwest Territories, they have developed some programs; however, their situation is somewhat worse than ours right now. They're running at about a 50-percent vacancy and they've actually had to severely cut back some of the regional hospitals.

We are interested in accepting any good ideas. I'm hoping that this nursing bursary program will sort of inspire some of our young people to think of health careers and to look at some of their future options.

I thank the members for their support.

Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.

question period

Question re: Shipyard residents, compensation formula

Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Government Leader, and it's concerning the Whitehorse Shipyards/ Sleepy Hollow constituents.

Last March, I raised the issue with the Government Leader about the formula that was being used to determine the amount of the compensation used to buy out the Shipyards residents. At that time, the government was using a total figure of $294,000.

The government used a part of the budget - approximately $120,000 - to buy four properties in that area. Then the Government Leader negotiated a $99,800 purchase for the one home, and it's my understanding a further $7,000 is being requested by that individual for a road into that property.

In view of the fact that one-third of the total compensation package was spent acquiring this one dwelling unit, can the Government Leader explain what formula his government is using to provide compensation to these waterfront residents?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, first of all, Mr. Speaker, the member will know that answering questions about my own constituency is something that is generally not done, but given the fact that the Minister of Community and Transportation Services is unable to answer the questions, I will take a crack at it.

The compensation package for the residents of the Shipyards/Sleepy Hollow area has been worked out, and is available for members to view. It certainly does constitute a financial commitment that is greater than that which was originally budgeted. This was expected, because the financial proposal that we put on the table was clearly a lowball effort, to initiate the negotiations.

The negotiations themselves will be undertaken, and will take place over the course of the winter. The extent to which the government requires new funds in the new year will be a subject of discussion at the next budget round.

Mr. Jenkins: Four properties in this region were acquired for $120,000, which is an average of $30,000 per property. There was one exception. It was three times this amount. Can the Government Leader explain the reason why so much was paid for that one property?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, the offer, which was made by Community and Transportation Services and not me, was made consistent with the financial formula that the department worked out for compensating the individuals on the waterfront. As the member has already noted, the amount that's been allocated for the initial undertaking of the negotiations will be insufficient to deal with all the residents of the waterfront, but the extent to which we require additional funding, again, will be the subject of discussions in the new budget round.

Mr. Jenkins: There are still 12 parties in the Shipyards/Sleepy Hollow area who have yet to be dealt with, Mr. Speaker. Can the Government Leader advise the House how much, on average, these 12 parties might expect to receive in compensation? What does he envision the total cost to the government to be for the acquisition of all of the housing units in that area, and could he table the formula that he spoke of earlier?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can return with the information, Mr. Speaker. I'm not familiar with the precise details in terms of the projected total costs of compensation at this point. I can certainly table the formula that has been used to determine the offers for the residents of the waterfront area, and I'm certain we can give the information before too long.

Question re: Shipyards residents, compensation formula  

Mr. Jenkins: Once again to the Government Leader: the individual in that area who received $99,800 in compensation credited the Government Leader himself with giving her an open door to talk with him about her move. Also, a communications officer with the government has stated that the Yukon government is pleased with the handling of the $99,800 purchase agreement and hopes to handle the other dozen lots in the same manner.

Mr. Speaker, the basic issue here, however, is fairness and consistency in the treatment of all Shipyards and Sleepy Hollow residents.

Can the Government Leader advise the House, for the record, what the formula is, which he's already going to table, and what is the total amount that the government is prepared to spend to acquire these waterfront properties?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, that is the same question over again. It's exactly the same question. I'll repeat to the member that the formula will be tabled. It is the basis for determining the offers to all the residents of the Shipyards area. It is the formula that determines the offer and is consistent with the total budget that we are considering. That information I can table - or I can have the minister table - at the earliest possible opportunity.

Fairness and consistency is a feature of the offers to the residents of that area, and we are seeking, through negotiation, an appropriate settlement package with each resident in hopes that the waterfront area can ultimately be cleared in a civil and humane way.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, in light of the tremendous difference between the average price paid of some $30,000 and the large price paid to one individual, does the Government Leader believe that the formula is working fairly and reasonably, and does he believe that this is not an open-ended arrangement?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, the member has made the calculation that the average price paid is $30,000, and he's made that on the basis of the number of people who were to be compensated and the original budget. We've already agreed that the original budget is inadequate. That was the initial lowball that we had considered.

The formula does apply to all residents of the Whitehorse waterfront in order to achieve consistency and fairness. So, the formula that applied to this particular residence takes into account, as I understand it, such things as the length of residency, the quality of the residence itself, and a variety of other factors. That will determine what each person will be offered in the negotiations.

Mr. Jenkins: Consistency and fairness is what this is all about, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that how the government handles these waterfront removals will set a precedent for future squatter removals, will the government be introducing a new squatter policy for the territory, or is this current one-on-one type of approach, which appears to be what the formula is all about, to compensation of squatters, intended for use specifically only in the Government Leader's riding?

Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, that's a pretty surprising accusation coming from the members opposite, who only a few months ago were asking, number one, the government to treat the waterfront residents fairly, given the fact that we were trying to evict them, and insisting that I should be personally out there talking with the waterfront residents, and they were criticizing me for what they thought I wasn't doing.

I was talking to the waterfront residents then and now. The reality is that we do have a consistent and fair policy to deal with waterfront residents, and this situation is different from the general squatter policy because we are evicting - we are encouraging people to leave property. We're not regularizing property, which was the subject of the original squatter policy.

So, people are being treated fairly. We do care very much about consistency and fairness and we're accomplishing that task.

Question re:  Gasoline prices

Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development on gasoline prices.

The minister issued a press release today saying that industry representatives would be here this week in Whitehorse to give the industry perspective on gasoline prices.

Now in the past, the NDP government had set up an inquiry - several years ago - to look at gasoline prices and the inquiry had found a lack of competition at the distribution level and some unexplained price differences between the Yukon and other Canadian centres.

This present NDP government has been looking at the gasoline price issue for several months and issued a paper in March.

What is this government's perspective on gasoline prices? Is the market working at the distribution level or are Yukon prices artificially high?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, when compared to other jurisdictions like the N.W.T. - and you can get a legitimate comparison - the Yukon fares fairly well. We come second in the country next to our northern neighbours. The next jurisdiction in the country is Prince Edward Island, which has a legislated price cap. Unfortunately, what happens with legislated price caps, given their experience, is that people charge to the upper level of that cap.

The problems in the Yukon pertain to margins at the retail sector, they pertain to a lack of competition among the retailers, they pertain to the fact that we can't get the volume discounts that are obtained down south, and a whole myriad of reasons. I still think that there is room for some improvement in gasoline pricing in the Yukon, particularly in rural Yukon where it's a very big burden on Yukoners.

We've invited these people here because we want Yukoners to have a say, in terms of dealing with the industry, to let them know their views. It's not just a one-way conversation. The industry may try to do that, but I brought them here because I want Yukoners to have an opportunity to vent and explain their frustrations and their concerns.

Mr. Cable: Well, there has been a lot of soft comment about whether the industry is competitive or not. And, in the paper that the minister issued in March, his staff officials said, "A determination of whether there is now sufficient competition in the market to ensure the lowest possible gasoline prices for consumers depends on more detailed information of the various issues linked to competitiveness than is presently available." Have the minister's officials or has the minister received any further information that would allow him to draw the conclusion that the market, at any level, is uncompetitive?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, the market in this country is not as competitive as it should be in my opinion, particularly in the north, and I have raised this issue at the energy minister's meeting with the hon. Minister Goodale, who made a commitment to take it up with the justice minister, because what I believe has to happen is a review, through the competition bureau and through the ministry that's responsible for consumer protection in this country, a much broader review of gasoline pricing policy.

Now, this industry organization that we've invited up here is very adept at explaining their side of the story, but they also have to be heard by Yukoners and that's why we've invited them. I do believe that there are going to have to be some changes made by the federal minister with regard to competition in this country if we're ultimately going to resolve this problem, as it extends across the north of this country in entirety. I hear the same problem and the same concerns from energy ministers in parts of the maritime provinces, in northern Quebec and northern Ontario, and right across the country.

Mr. Cable: Well, let me be more specific. What information has the minister's department got from the industry? Has there been a breakdown of transportation costs, which seem to be the major bugaboo? And has the department reached the conclusion that the transportation element of gasoline prices is fair?

Hon. Mr. Harding: There has been some work done on the transportation cost issue, and it is a major component of the problem we have in the territory. But it's not limited to that, as I said. I can provide the information in more detail to the member opposite. I would be happy to do that.

It's a combination of factors, none of which, I think, is insurmountable in terms of seeing some effect at the pumps. That's why we've talked about a consumer awareness campaign - we've started that - that's why I've raised it with the energy ministers, with the federal minister. We've talked about a solution that envisages many different aspects, in terms of trying to deal with the major competition issues that are the responsibility of the minister responsible for consumer protection in this country - and the federal energy minister as well, who has responsibility in terms of energy ministers across this country who deal with this particular subject.

There's also, as I said earlier, not just a transportation issue, but an issue of lack of competition and the inability to obtain large-volume discounts. There's a myriad of reasons, and the industry is coming here to hear from Yukoners about their concerns.

Question re:  Gasoline prices

Mr. Cable: Same minister; same topic. I think most people are, in fact, interested in hearing from the industry, but what we are more interested in is hearing from the government. The government's here to protect us from unfair practices.

Now, the minister has indicated that there will be a study carried out with the federal, provincial and territorial governments. What are the terms of reference for this study? Are there published documents that we can get tabled in the legislature?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'd be happy to table all of that information for the member opposite. I agree with the member that the government has a role to play in this equation and this issue, and we're trying to do that.

It's not an easy issue. Some of the members from the Yukon Party have called for price caps on gasoline, which is sort of an interesting concept, coming from the supposed free-enterprisers. But what I pointed out earlier is that in the area where there is price caps in this country - Prince Edward Island - they're the next highest in relation to us in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, in the entire country.

So, there is a whole range of reasons that have to be dealt with. I think the primary change that's really going to have some effect in northern parts of the country is a review of the competition act. That is what we're pushing for, as a government, as well as doing our own educational and consumer awareness campaign, and raising the issues of the margins and the competition problems that we encourage as Yukoners.

Ultimately, I expect there will be a -

Speaker: The minister's time has expired.

Mr. Cable: I think the minister has the same suspicions as most people do on the street, that the market is not working efficiently at some juncture.

When will this study that the minister just spoke about be completed? Is it something that's looming on the immediate horizon, or are we going to go through another three or four years of agony before we find out just what the problem is?

Hon. Mr. Harding: I expect to have the work done in the very near future, and I'll be prepared to provide it to the members opposite and also to give them some information.

I understand that this industry organization has also offered to meet with the opposition, and I urge them, as I am urging other Yukoners, to raise the issues of concern that northerners, and Yukoners specifically, have raised with me about gasoline prices. It's particularly a problem in rural Yukon as well as in Whitehorse, and it does have an impact on the cost of doing business and on Yukoners' pocketbooks, but it is a difficult issue to ultimately resolve, given the factors that I've identified.

So, I'll be more than happy to provide that to the member opposite.

Mr. Cable: The minister has indicated in his press release and elsewhere that he is going to be publishing the gasoline prices. Just for the benefit of the Legislature, what are these prices going to be? Are they going to be community-by-community prices, or is it going to be a Yukon average that's going to be published?

Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I think it's important, if Yukoners are going to have the full story, that we have the best and most wide-ranging information possibly available, so I would hope that we would try to obtain comparative pricing from across the territory, and also that we try to detail as many factors involved in the pricing as possible.

The member opposite will know that, even though the Yukon Party brought in those obscene, huge tax increases, Mr. Speaker, when they were in government, even with those large increases - the gasoline taxes that they imposed - we still have the lowest gasoline taxes in the entire country. Even though I think that had some impact, it's obviously one of the factors, but it's a marginal one.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Harding: I think, Mr. Speaker, the members opposite who are asking us to lower taxes stand up every day in this Legislature and ask us to spend millions and millions and millions of dollars - think that government itself should run the entire economy in this territory. It's quite amazing to listen to the supposed free-enterprisers' view of the economy. "Big budgets and big spending" was their motto - and tax increases. It's not ours, and we're trying very hard -

Speaker: The minister's time has expired.

Question re:  Youth tobacco reduction strategy

Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. This morning it was reported that the youth tobacco reduction strategy is coming to an end at the end of this year. It appears, once again, that the federal Liberal government has initiated another federal program, cut the ribbon, eaten the cake, and then taken the glory, only to shut the doors of the program.

The Minister of Health and Social Services stated that his government is not prepared to pick up where the federal government has left off. It's safe to say that smoking among youth is on the rise, Mr. Speaker, and is detrimental to the health of our future generations.

In light of the federal Liberals' decision to cancel the program, is the minister confident that the existing programs we have in the Yukon are adequate to combat the use of tobacco among our youth?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: I must concur with my colleague from Riverdale North in the fact that I was extremely disappointed that the federal Liberal government has taken this tack. I guess I was even more disappointed on Friday, when I heard the Liberal House leader, the hon. Don Boudria, say that they were going to kill a bill that has come forward from a Liberal senator, and supported by a Liberal backbencher, on levying a tax on a carton of cigarettes, which would have gone for youth tobacco reduction.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yeah, well, they lowered cigarette taxes for their friends in Imperial Tobacco in Quebec, but I thought Senator Kenny's bill was well intentioned, and I thought it was essentially a no-brainer - I thought everyone could support it, but apparently the federal government doesn't.

With regard to the central point of the member's question, about the adequacy, we have, I think, directed our resources, and are increasing our resources, in terms of youth tobacco reduction. We had hoped that the federal Liberal government would have maintained -

Speaker: The minister's time has expired.

Mr. Phillips: It's too bad. He was just getting to the good part.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like maybe the minister to finish his answer when he gets back up, but also, I have a concern, because there are several programs like YES, the mineral assessment program, the geoscience office, and those types of programs that the federal government initiates and then, after a pilot-project period of time, cancels the project.

I'd like to ask the minister how his government determines which project is worthwhile and which project it will continue with. It appears right now that the new policy of the government is to say no to every federal program that the feds start. And I'm wondering if it's more of a question of who's idea it was, rather than what the merits of the program are.

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, no, it's not a question of the merits of the idea; it's a question of the fact that, at this rate I expect that we'll be picking up the military and ports and airports very, very soon.

The federal government seems to be bound and determined to strip this country and actually deconstruct this country by offloading everything that they can on to the provinces, and then they have the audacity to turn around and talk about social union.

How can you hold a country together when you're offloading, you're fracturing the substance of that country in its most cherished programs?

It's not a question of one program being as opposed to another; it's a question that this is inherently unfair. They strip $8 billion out of the Canada health and social transfer, they offload programs on to the provinces and territories and then they can't understand why this country is so hard to keep together.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, it appears from this latest announcement and the latest initiatives from Ottawa that large tobacco companies seems to have an in with the Liberal Party of Canada and, in fact, at the expense of all Canadians, and Yukoners in particular.

Mr. Speaker, the rates of lung cancer in the Yukon are well above the national average. I am very concerned about the rising number of youth in our schools who are taking up the habit of smoking and I'd like the minister to tell this House what programs we are initiating, what programs have we got in place to combat this rising epidemic of youth smoking, which is going to cause a great amount of cost to our health system in the future.

The Liberal have forgotten about it. They say it's not an issue, but what is this government going to do about the smoking of our youth in the future and the health care costs associated with it?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I can tell you, first of all, the one thing we've done is to take a look at programs throughout the country, and perhaps one of the most effective programs is "Keeping B.C. Kids Safe". I've met with the hon. Penny Priddy on this program and about getting access to the curricular materials. There is an excellent curriculum in grade 5 through 7. The posters are graphic, but they are very blunt. We're currently working with B.C. right now to get access to that material at cost.

We are currently trying to lever a three-year agreement on tobacco enforcement from the feds. We've been offered one. We've insisted that we need a minimum of three. We have also been discussing, with B.C., and we're actively looking at, participating in their litigation against tobacco companies. Regrettably, Mr. Rock has chosen not to support that initiative we have been discussing.

We've run into a bit of a jurisdictional problem right now, but our lawyers are still talking on that. We have -

Speaker: The minister's time has expired.

Question re:  HRIS

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Government Services, the minister responsible for the human resource information system, or HRIS.

This is the computer system that is supposed to manage Government of Yukon positions, classifications, payroll, time and benefits, and leave recording - in other words, Government of Yukon employees' pay cheques. It could also, like a telephone company, be billed as "the most for the least" - the most expensive payroll system for the least labour-friendly NDP government.

This project was started in 1994. Five years later, the system is supposed to go live, or actually work, this January.

Mr. Speaker, this project has been delayed time and time and time again. Is the government confident that the system will work in January 1999?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Yes, we are. The delay that came about in the spring was twofold. One was the fact that we sought an upgrade from the firm that was providing our materials, which is a company called PeopleSoft, and the second one was the fact that we were in labour negotiations and there was a potential impact of those labour negotiations on how this system would roll out. But we are looking at a January 1999 implementation.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, we've heard those assurances before from this minister. Almost 18 months ago, in March 1997, the minister said, and I quote, "This government promised to be efficient and accountable. The department will be implementing a new computer system to make delivery of service somewhat more effective. We hope to have this, at least some aspects of it, in place by April 1, 1997." We're now being assured by the minister that some aspects will work January 1, 1999, and the minister has already mentioned at least one computer upgrade.

Mr. Speaker, would the minister tell this House what assurances we have from the software supplier that it will actually work, and how much more is this going to cost us?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, I think the - I can't table a letter or anything, that says we guarantee this will work, but we are confident that this PeopleSoft product will be maintained and upgraded as we need it. Each upgrade is designed to support changes that come about as a result of collective agreements or changes in classification or whatever.

The original redesign work and new business processes have been completed. Modification requirements have been identified and programmed, reporting requirements have been identified, custom reports have been designed - an upgrade to Version 7 was necessitated.

Testing of the upgraded systems in progress, conversion for moving information from the legacy system to the new version is underway. Schedules are developed; confirmation of system readiness in departments is underway. User manuals are being developed. A training plan for users is being developed, including 7.

So I guess we are about ready to go live.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'd hoped for a little bit more of an assurance then "I hope, I guess, we are."

The minister responsible for the Public Service Commission said last spring, "People have been working hard on this system, and a lot of money has been spent." Indeed, the list just given by the minister went on and on. There've been contracts, wages, outside consultants, training secondments, and another tender in Friday's papers. The list goes on and on and on.

Mr. Speaker, Government Services has spent almost a million dollars on this project since this NDP government took office - the most expensive project for the least labour-friendly government.

Does the minister have any idea what the final total on this project will be? Would the minister provide a written response, detailing all of the costs of this project over the past five years?

Hon. Mr. Sloan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we can do that, and we can also break down what the costs are. I should mention, however, that this is a project that began in the previous government, and we've been following through and trying to complete it as best we can.

There has been re-engineering of some of the processes, due to the collective agreement and business rules - they were more extensive than had been originally anticipated.

We are confident that we're going to have to do this just to meet the future demands of our human resources system. There are also implications regarding the Y2K problem, as well.

We're confident that this program will go ahead. There have been additional costs; there have been additional delays necessitated by the technical aspects of this program. We can provide a tabling of what those additional costs are and the rationale for those additional costs, because I think that's necessary.

This is not a question of we've suddenly decided we want the computers red instead of blue; this is a case where there are actual, technical reasons. I'll be prepared to bring that forward. I'll have to get my department to do a complete breakdown of this, and I'll provide if for the member at the first opportunity.

Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.


Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Fifteen minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee will be dealing with Bill No. 60, An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act.

Bill No. 60 - An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act - continued

Chair: Is there any further general debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There is a little further general debate, I believe.

A couple of weeks ago, when this bill was first brought forward into Committee, there were some requests from members of the opposition for some additional time to be provided to members of the local bar, and in particular to the family law subsection of the Canadian Bar Association, to comment on the bill.

I want to inform members that my officials have had a productive couple of meetings with members of the opposition as well as members of the legal community, and I would like to thank all of them for their input. I will be tabling today some amendments, which for the most part are the result of that input, and in others they are just matters of clarification.

I would say at the outset, though, that I want to be very clear that we have been seeking input from the bar for over a year now, that we had sent out a discussion paper, which I tabled in the House last week, on the child support guidelines and the proposed changes to the Family Property and Support Act.

We're pleased to have this bill before us because we cannot delay any longer in our efforts to ensure adequate and consistent child support awards.

That is the primary intent of this bill.

The amendments have to do generally with contributions to a pension plan. We've put in a provision to ensure that people are aware that savings plans such as RRSPs will be considered family assets, although that was already the case. We have asked the court, in section 4(13), to look at the date of valuation of family assets as one of the criteria to be considered if there's a departure from a 50/50 split of family assets.

We are also making an amendment, as I indicated earlier, to expand the definition of "spouse" to include same-sex couples, just as we have done in the maintenance enforcement legislation.

In addition, Mr. Chair, we have included a transitional provision to clarify the fact that, from the day of proclamation of the Family Property and Support Act, the new changes will apply. The changes will apply to spouses and their dependants after the bill is changed. However, there is not a requirement for the relationship that is affected by the Family Property and Support Act to begin after the act is in effect. Couples who have been together for some time can use the Family Property and Support Act, once the changes in the bill are made, and the potential changes to support orders because of that.

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I think this whole exercise has led to a concern over the way we're proceeding with legislation, and I think the minister has to admit it has been confusing, to say the least, with people in the family law association of the Yukon Bar, as well as ourselves on this side.

I take the minister back to November 5, when the minister was speaking in this House. The minister at that time was telling us how we were quite aware of this legislation and what it was going to do. In fact, the minister said, "Mr. Chair, Bill No. 36, An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, was tabled during the first session of the Twenty-ninth Legislature, in 1997. That was over a year ago."

Well, Mr. Chair, I checked the record, and I don't see anywhere in the record where that bill was tabled. Maybe the minister knows something that we don't or that the record of Hansard doesn't know, but most bills that get tabled in this House are duly recorded.

So, it appears to be a misstatement by the minister to say that the bill was tabled. It may have been on the legislative agenda and it probably was pulled from the legislative agenda, but I don't believe it was tabled in the House. If the minister knows differently, then maybe she can explain how the bill is not on the legislative agenda, anywhere that I could find.

In fact, that's what the minister said on November 5. On May 14, the minister said, and I quote from a letter from the minister, "As you are aware, I removed the Family Property and Support Act from the fall 1997 legislative agenda to allow for additional review and discussion of the proposed amendments."

So, the statement that the minister made with respect to tabling the bill was wrong, dead wrong, completely wrong, because the minister contradicts that in a letter of May 14, just a few months later.

And the minister didn't say it once; the minister said it about four or five times. By the end of it, I have to tell the minister, I was starting to believe that there must have been something tabled and I must have missed it.

But I think the minister, to say the least, owes an apology to the House for making that statement and not correcting it - to start with.

Mr. Chair, the minister also stated that individuals in the local bar had copies of the legislation with the bill a year ago, and aside from that, when you read the minister's comments, that they all knew what the changes were going to be.

Then the other day, the minister tabled a document, Family Property and Support Act, Summary of Proposed Amendments. The difficulty I have with this, Mr. Chair, is that this is fine - this is a summary of proposed amendments and I believe that many people in the bar might have received this on May 14. But it isn't the amendments, and the minister knows that in this kind of legislation that really to comment on the changes that are going to made, you need to be able to see the legal text because you can say one thing in the proposed amendments in the general synopsis of what the amendments will do, but it's another thing to see how the actual act will implement those proposed amendments or whether it will actually do the job that the minister wants it to do.

So, I think it was a bit misleading to inform us that everyone had copies of what legislation we'd be dealing with because, in fact, they didn't. Maybe the minister could clarify, for the record, when local lawyers in the family law association of the Yukon bar had the actual copy of the proposed amendments, the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of what they were going to have to deal with when they got to court? When did they have the proposed copy of that? If the minister could enlighten us on that, I'd appreciate hearing that.

The other thing I'd like to suggest to the minister - and I think the Member for Riverside has commented on this - is that we should be setting up, in these types of legislation, which I think are generally non-political in scope and just good legislation for the territory - that maybe there should be a sort of legislative process where there's an all-committee group that works together - as the Member for Riverside has said - to iron out these problems with the local bar and make the bill better before we get into the House.

Because I'm sure we could have dealt with this quite speedily, if that had been done with this piece of legislation. I don't think there would have been a problem. So I would certainly back that suggestion made by the Member for Riverside.

I don't know whether we're not saying it correctly, or whether the minister's not understanding it, but here we are again today, after a week or so delay of this bill, and the minister's coming in with three or four or five amendments that we on this side are going to get to have a look at five minutes before the minister wants us to say yea or nay.

So I would maybe get some comments from the minister on that.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, let me state first of all that I did err in saying that the Family Property and Support Act amendments had been tabled in the House in the fall of 1997. The bill had been prepared; however, it was not tabled in the House. The family law subsection of the Canadian Bar Association wanted some time for further consultation on the proposed amendments to the Family Property and Support Act, and we agreed to provide them with additional time for consultation.

Copies of the bill were handed out in confidence to members of the family law subsection, in a meeting that they held with my officials in the fall of 1997. That consultation led to some amendments to the bill, which were incorporated in November and December of 1997. At that time, I wrote to Mr. Laluk, asking for further comments and for review by March 15, 1998. In addition, the department has held a number of maintenance enforcement information sessions, one in April of 1997, and I believe again in 1998 - yes, on May 29, 1998, there was also an information session on the maintenance enforcement legislation.

As the member is aware, the Family Property and Support Act amendments are linked to both the federal child support guidelines and the issue of ensuring that people pay their payments, and maintenance enforcement program information.

So, Mr. Chair, in response to the specific questions, an embargoed copy of the bill that was prepared in 1997 was provided to the bar in November of 1997. We also, as I've indicated previously, sent out the summary of the proposed amendments to the child support guidelines to the local bar and to many other groups in the Yukon that we felt would have an interest in this - women's groups, the clients of the maintenance enforcement program, other non-government organizations.

We used the responses we received to prepare the bill for tabling in this House, as is the normal practice of government.

Various interests express different views on legislation, and the government ensures that amendments are drafted with consideration to doing what is in the public interest.

The members of the family law subsection of the Canadian Bar Association - Mr. Fairman and Mr. Laluk - at the maintenance enforcement program information session in May of this year requested a copy of the amendments in draft to the Family Property and Support Act. We provided them to them in September 1998, with an understanding that the contents of the amendments in draft would not be revealed.

After the bill was tabled, there was additional correspondence received. A technical briefing with members of the opposition was held, and there was a meeting with members of the opposition and some of the lawyers from the family law subsection, who requested some further amendments, which I have, in my opening comments, indicated we will be bringing to the fore.

Mr. Phillips: I mentioned in my closing comments, Mr. Chair, that I hadn't received a copy of those amendments, and I understand, through my Liberal colleagues, that we were provided copies. Are there copies out there somewhere of these amendments that I can look at now and have some time to review them before we go any further?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair. I had understood that the amendments had been provided to the opposition. However, if the member doesn't have them, I can have the page make some copies for him now.

Mr. Phillips: Yes, Mr. Chair. I hadn't received them at all. I took a glance at the ones that our Liberal colleague has and I don't recall seeing that information at all on my desk, so I'd appreciate getting copies of them as soon as possible.

Mr. Cable: I'm sure the minister will appreciate that we, and she, have been bombarded with comments from the local bar and we've tried to reconstruct the history that took place.

Just for the record, in the fall of 1997, was there a bill presented to members of the local bar for comment, as I think the minister said, or was she talking about the substantive changes that were going to be made? Was it actually a bill in draft form that was presented to them?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, and I certainly apologize for any confusion that I may have inadvertently created. The amendments to the Family Property and Support Act were prepared in 1997. The family law subsection of the Canadian Bar Association requested a further year for consultation on those proposed amendments, which I determined would be beneficial, and we provided copies of the draft amendments, in confidence, to the family law lawyers for review. We had a response back with some suggestions for change that we accepted and then we proceeded to prepare the amendments that are now before the House.

Mr. Cable:Did the draft bill that was presented to the bar in the fall of 1997 simply relate to the child support guidelines, or were there other provisions in that first draft?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In the main, they related to the child support guidelines. There was discussion of common-law spouses and to pensions as family assets, which are components of the bill before us.

Mr. Cable: It's my understanding that the bill tabled this session, Bill No. 60, had several additional provisions over whatever the conversations were originally, and that there was a substantive change in the sort of general thrust of the bill, from one that was primarily just dealing with the guidelines to one that is now dealing with the guidelines and a number of other provisions.

Is that summation accurate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In response to some of the comments that we had, both from women who have a lot of experience in dealing with family property and support when it comes to child maintenance payments, and from the local bar, there were additional changes made aside from simply adopting the federal child support guidelines.

I want to be clear, though, that in the summary of the proposed amendments that we provided to the local bar in the spring of 1998, we indicated we wanted to do more than simply bring in the child support guidelines.

The three aspects of the proposed amendments, which were made public, are to support the child; to make sure that the process is fair; and, to clarify the property section of the Family Property and Support Act.

I think it's important that all members are aware that we want to encourage fair and consistent decisions for children of either married or common-law parents who are divorcing or separating, by ensuring that the courts use the child support guidelines to make or to change an order for child support.

We also want to put the best interest of the child first in child support decisions, and that requires that we change the sections of the Family Property and Support Act that deal with family assets.

Mr. Cable: Okay, I think I'm reading the minister. What took place then, in the fall of 1997 there was a draft bill presented to the bar, which was essentially the adoption of the federal guidelines, and then, at some juncture in the spring of 1998, there was a document, which was tabled the other day, entitled Family Property Support Act, Summary of Proposed Amendments, that was then presented to the bar and enlarged the scope of the bill that was given to them in the fall of 1997. Is that accurate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes.

Mr. Cable: Okay, let's go back to the draft bill that given to the bar in the fall of 1997. Was there any formal response from the bar and has that been tabled? If not, can it be tabled so we can see what the issues were back in the fall of 1997?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there was a letter that offered some suggestions that had to do with common-law spouses and pensions as family assets. Those issues are being dealt with in this bill. I do not have a copy of the letter for the member and rather than ask the department to review the correspondence reading files and provide a copy of a letter from November of 1997, I would just say for the member that issues that were raised that were dealt with have to do with common-law spouses and with pensions as family assets.

Mr. Cable: Okay, I would think that that would be a fairly easy chore to pull off the reading file - the letter from the fall of 1997.

Well, as the minister can appreciate, there is some discussion as to just what took place, and I think the bar wants to be satisfied that we're all on the same wavelength.

What I would ask the minister to do now is, can she assure this House that in the fall of 1997 the bar was generally behind the statute and that they weren't asking the minister to yank the bill and to put it off for a major review of the Family Property Support Act?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I think we may have spent a little bit of time in the fall of 1997 session discussing this, the family law subsection of the Canadian Bar Association did request the amendments to the Family Property and Support Act be withdrawn from consideration. They did request further input, which they were provided. They have taken a position where they are requesting a complete review of the bill.

I've spent some time in general debate outlining for members the amendments before us in this session that deal with the three issues to make fair and consistent decisions for children of parents who are separating, or divorcing, by using the child support guidelines - to put the child's interests first - and to change the sections of the Family Property and Support Act, that deal with family assets.

I think it's important, as well, for members to recognize that there has been considerable discussion right across the country, and the Yukon has been part of the family law federal/provincial/territorial working group, which has talked about child support guidelines, about maintenance enforcement programs, about Family Property and Support Act. There has been ongoing discussion both in the government and in the legal community about some of those changes.

We think it's important now that children of parents in the Yukon are part of these new national child support guidelines, because if the parents were to move to any other jurisdiction in Canada, that's what would be in effect.

We've brought these amendments forward now, and we think it's important to do them.

Mr. Cable: Yes, I don't think there's ever been any debate on this bill relating to the support from the opposition - and that refers to both parties in opposition - as the bill relates to the child support guidelines. So, that should be clear on the record and I don't think we have to waste a lot of breath on it.

What I'd like the minister to appreciate, though, is that, presenting the bar with a document that describes in general terms what the minister intends to do and presenting the bar with a bill, which has the drafting completed, are two very different things. The substantive law, of course, is important, but also how that substantive law is presented is very important to somebody who has to take a client into court.

I'd like the minister to confirm that the first time the bar saw the bill as presented as Bill No. 60 was just about a month ago. Is that the first time that the local bar had a chance to get a view of the draftmanship on the bill?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, let me first confirm for the member that this government is following the practice of most governments across Canada - and in fact the previous Yukon Party government - in working with the public in developing either new legislation or amendments to existing legislation by talking to the people who have a stake in it and bringing their interests forward, and by weighing various interests where different segments of the community may have different interests.

It is not normal practice, under most circumstances, to provide copies of legislation in advance of them being introduced in the Legislative Assembly.

Now, with the Family Property and Support Act, because there have been meetings and correspondence and discussions with the family bar about this bill for well over a year, we agreed to provide an embargoed copy of the new, 1998, amendments to the Family Property and Support Act to the co-chairs of the family law subsection of the Canadian Bar Association, Mr. Fairman and Mr. Laluk, on an embargoed basis in advance of that bill being introduced in this House.

The amendments were provided on September 25, 1998.

Mr. Phillips: I want to move through this bill as well, and I think, as the Liberal member has said, we do support the federal child support guidelines portion of the bill. But what it appears has happened here is, there was an initial bill tabled - not tabled, but an initial bill prepared - a year ago. It didn't have all the changes that are in this bill. It dealt more primarily with the issue of child support guidelines.

Mr. Chair, now, all of a sudden, in front of us, we see this new bill that does make some other changes, and it appears that the minister's rationale is that it will make it easier, or better, for children to receive payments, down the road, of child support that is due to them.

But the problem I have with it is, in the consultation that the minister undertook, she was advised by the local bar association that they felt a complete review of this act was in order. And what appears to have happened is the minister cherry picked portions of the act that the minister felt were important. So now we have a bill in front of us that is more selective to the minister's wishes than it was to the family law bar association.

So what I would suggest to the minister - and we asked for this last week, when we spoke to this issue last - is that she give us some kind of a firm commitment of a timeline of a full review. I mean, I can use the same arguments that the minister used. The minister said that this act will provide for children who are due payments with respect to family property and support.

So what I'm suggesting to the minister is that the local lawyers, who deal with this on an everyday basis, are saying there's a lot more work to be done to accomplish what the minister wants to do.

Our suggestion from this side: let's get at it right away. We'll pass this piece of legislation. We'll deal with what we have in front of us here, but let's have the minister give us a commitment that this winter and early spring, she will sit down with the family law division of the bar association, work on this act and bring it back next fall and improve it completely. I think we'd be better served that way.

I'd also even go further to suggest to the minister that we adopt the proposal that has been put forward by the Liberal member and me of some kind of legislative committee so that we would be involved a little more than we have been in the past, where we end up receiving the bill a few days before it's debated in this House and we have to run around and contact a bunch of people and listen to their concerns.

Maybe I'll leave that with the minister. Could she give us some kind of a commitment that we could do something like that this winter, that the Family Property and Support Act is important enough and is as much a priority that the minister would consider doing that so we could clean this matter up in the next legislative session?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I have some difficulty with the member using the expression "cherry pick." I want to be very clear that these amendments harmonize with other jurisdictions. The agenda of our government is to reduce child and family poverty. It is to work with both the maintenance enforcement and the Family Property and Support Act legislation to ensure that when parents are raising children, if they're not in a relationship where both parents are contributing to raising that child, there are adequate financial supports in place for raising children.

We're considering undertaking a broader review of the act, but we want to wait until we've been able to work with the child support guidelines for a period of time. We will then have had a chance to review and evaluate both the Yukon legislation and other legislation before doing a major revision of our own.

The federal Justice department will be evaluating the child support guidelines and their implementation across Canada. That work, I believe, has already been started in some of the jurisdictions that have been operating under the child support guidelines for a year.

What we will learn from that evaluation will contribute to any major revisions that we may make in our legislation in the future. I think it would be good to provide some time to test how the new elements of the Yukon legislation and that of other jurisdictions is working, as well as the national review of the guidelines and case law related to child support, to property and to other areas of family law.

I can assure the member that all of that will be taken into account with any future changes we may make in the Family Property and Support Act. It may not be, however, until the new child support guidelines have been in effect for a period of time.

Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Chair, I don't think that's adequate. I mean, the minister either wants to deal with the issue of family child poverty or adequate financial support or she doesn't. I mean, family support guidelines are just that. The minister herself has said in this House that that was an important part of this bill and is separate and above the other issues that we're dealing with.

So, I mean, we've agreed to support that part of it. Let's give that time to implement it and see how it works. We can deal with that at a later date.

There are some things in the existing legislation that are broken now. I mean, we can spend all kinds of time going through it because we met with some of the family lawyers who talked about some of the issues that they wanted to raise. So, waiting to see how the child support guidelines work out is not going to change the things that are broken now. They're still going to be broken until we decide to change them.

All I'm suggesting to the minister is to put something together this winter or this spring, meet with the local lawyers and come back with some recommendations for next fall to bring this act up to snuff. We can deal with the child support guidelines now and do a review two or three years down the road. I mean, we know it might be two or three or four years before we come back with the child support guidelines review and deal with anything with respect to that.

By that time, there may be all kinds of children who are kept in child poverty and don't receive adequate financial support because we've neglected to make any changes.

So, I'm just asking the minister to be true to her word when she says she wants to fight child and family poverty and to sit down with the local bar and find out what issues there are out there that are outstanding in this act, which is quite old, and deal with it as soon as possible. The other issues can wait till a later date.

Chair: Is there further debate? Seeing none, we'll proceed to clause 1.

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, be amended in clause 2 on page 1 by adding the following definition to the said clause 2:

"'child' means a person who is the child of a parent either

    1. by birth, whether within or outside marriage, or
    2. by virtue of an adoption made or recognized under the Children's Act,
    3. and who is either

    4. under the age of majority and has not withdrawn from their parent's charge, or
    5. of the age of majority or over and under their parent's charge but unable, by reason of illness, disability, or other cause, to withdraw from their parent's charge or to obtain the necessaries of life;

and includes a person whom the parent has demonstrated a settled intention to treat as a child of his or her family otherwise than under an arrangement where the child is placed for valuable consideration in a foster home by a person having lawful custody."

Mr. Cable:    I received the other day from the minister, five amendments. Just to make sure we're on the same wavelength, I didn't receive a copy of what the minister just read into the record.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, this is the definition of "child" which is presently found in section 5 of the act. The amendment moves the definition of "child" to section 2 of the act, with the other definitions, and there will be an amendment to delete the definition from section 5, because it's being placed in section 2.

So this is not a substantial amendment; this is just moving the definition from section 5 to section 2.

Chair: Is there any debate on the amendment?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the amendment merges two very similar definitions, one in section 2 and one in section 5, and makes them one definition which will only be found in section 2.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 2 agreed to as amended

On Clause 3

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, be amended in clause 3 on page 1 by adding the following subsection:

"Section 4 of the said act is amended by adding the following paragraph:

"(f) the spouse's rights to contributions to a pension plan in which the spouse's rights have not vested, and the spouse's rights to money in a retirement, savings or investment plan."

Amendment agreed to

Clause 3 agreed to, as amended

On Clause 3.1

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, be amended at page 1 by adding the following clause:

"3.1 Section 13 of the said Act is amended by adding the following paragraph to it:

"(g) the date of valuation of family assets."

Mr. Cable: I believe that what this amendment does is state that despite what will become clause 15(3), the judge will have some discretion in changing the valuation date. Am I reading these two provisions correctly?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes. The general proposition is that family assets will be valued as of the earliest date on which the marriage is deemed to have broken down. This change does not prevent the parties from agreeing on a different date for the valuation of family assets. The amendment will set the valuation date of the family property at the earliest as the date of separation - the date an application to divide assets is filed or the date that a separation agreement is signed. However, it will also allow the judge the discretion to take into account the circumstances of the case.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 3.1 agreed to

Chair: We will proceed to clause 4.

On Clause 4

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, be amended in clause 5 on page 1 by deleting the said clause 5.

Mr. Chair, that amendment is deleting the definition of "child", which is now found in clause 2.

Chair: The amendment is out of order, and the solution is to simply vote down clause 5. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Clause 5 negatived

On Clause 6

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Clause 7 agreed to

On Clause 8

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, be amended in clause 9 on page 2 by amending the proposed paragraph 34(2)(b) by deleting the expression "with leave of the court".

Amendment agreed to

Clause 9 agreed to as amended

On Clause 10

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I indicated in my second reading speech on the Family Property and Support Act, we want to ensure that this legislation is consistent with other legislative amendments that the Yukon government is bringing forward this session, and recognize both common-law spouses as well as same-sex relationships. I have an amendment on that at this time.

I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, be amended in clause 11 at page 4 by deleting the said clause 11 and substituting the following clause for it:

"11.(1) The definition of 'spouse' in section 1 of the said act is amended by

  1. repealing the expression 'means either of a man and a woman' and substituting for it the expression 'means persons who' and
  2. adding the following paragraph immediately after paragraph (c):

"(d) have cohabited as a couple for at least 12 continuous months."

(2) The definition of 'spouse' in subsection 30(1) of the said act is amended by repealing the expression 'either of a man and a woman' and substituting for it the word 'persons'; and

"(3) Section 35 of the said act is repealed."

Amendment agreed to

Clause 11 agreed to as amended

On Clause 12

Clause 12 agreed to

On Clause 13

Clause 13 agreed to

On Clause 14

Mr. Phillips: This is talking about the parent who pays the support. He could be asked for an annual financial statement in the prescribed form within 30 days. The guidelines that we're adopting in this bill already ask for an income tax return annually. Is there a need to require a financial statement? Financial statements are a little more involved than an income tax return and could be somewhat costly to an individual. We're talking about, basically, an annual financial statement with respect to income tax, whether the individual has money or not, so why are we requiring the individual to go this far?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This amendment follows the child support guidelines. Compulsory disclosure of income is required when an application is made for child support. The person who receives the child support payments may request financial information on an annual basis in order to verify the income of the paying parent. At the present time, the requirement to provide an annual statement can be waived by the custodial parent.

Periodic updating of financial information is essential to make sure that the paying parent's financial situation has not changed. I recognize, Mr. Chair, that the financial situation could both improve or worsen, and that may have an effect on the child support payments.

The child support guidelines do require disclosure of annual financial information. In bringing forward this amendment, I was aware of the number of cases where parents have said that this information should be required to ensure that the child support payments are in keeping with the income, and are being amended as needed.

We will not create an onerous responsibility for parents to deliver different kinds of financial statements. The financial statement in the prescribed form that is referred to in this section of the bill will link to the financial information that has to be provided under the child support guidelines.

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act, be amended in Clause 15 on page 7 by deleting the proposed clause 62(1).

Clause 62(1) of the bill allows the court to set aside part or all of an existing domestic agreement that is not in the best interest of the child. Clause 62(2) allows the court to disregard provisions of a domestic agreement if the provisions seem unreasonable when compared with the child support guidelines.

Clause 62(1) is being deleted because clause 62(2) covers the same issue of a domestic contract that is not in the best interests of the child. It was felt that, for clarity, clause 62(2) will cover what is contained in clause 62(1).

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, couldn't we do the same thing as we did with that last amendment and just defeat this?

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Phillips: Just a portion of a clause. So we have to - okay, that's fine.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 15 agreed to as amended

On Clause 16

Clause 16 agreed to

On Clause 17

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move

THAT Bill No. 60, entitled An Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act be amended in clause 17 on page 9 by: deleting the said clause and substituting the following clause for it:

"17.(1) This act, or any provision of it, comes into force on a day or days to be fixed by the Commissioner in Executive Council.

(2) The amendments made by this act apply notwithstanding that

  1. the persons became spouses before this act came into force;

(b) the person for whose support an order is sought became a dependant before this act came into force;

  1. the property in question or the family home was acquired before this act came into force;
  2. a proceeding to determine rights as between the spouses in respect of property or a family home was commenced or adjudicated before this act came into force;
  3. the order in question for alimony, maintenance, or support was made before this act came into force."

Mr. Cable: I've had it expressed to me that subsection (e) and possibly subsection (d) would cause chaos in the family law circles - the opening up of orders that had already taken place. I'm not in a position to judge the merits of that comment, but has that been dealt with by the minister's officials?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, I'd like to point out a couple of things for the benefit of the member opposite. Those particular clauses are identical to the clauses presently in effect in the old Family Property and Support Act. The transition phase is necessary in clause 17(1). Let me take a stab at a layperson's explanation. The new Family Property and Support Act amendments, which bring into effect the child support guidelines, will take effect when the bill has been proclaimed into force on a day fixed by the Commissioner in Executive Council. Consistent with normal practice, the new provisions will not be applied retroactively; however, we need to be very clear that, if a couple are in a relationship where they have children together, that relationship can be before the act came into force, that the separation can be before the act came into force. The new provisions on determining child support will come into effect after this act has been proclaimed.

Mr. Cable: We're going to have to walk through this slowly. Where in the present act, before Bill No. 60, is there a retroactive right in the court similar to the - ?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, section 3 of the present act is where the member will find that language. Parts 1 and 2 apply, notwithstanding that the spouses entered into the marriage before this act comes into force, the property in issue or the family home was acquired before this act comes into force, or (c) a proceeding to determine rights as between the spouses in respect of property or a family home has been commenced or adjudicated before this act comes into force.

Mr. Chair, as I explained earlier, those same provisions are presently found in the bill. The changes that are being made are in order to be consistent with the changing definition of "spouse". Rather than referring simply to "spouses entering into a marriage" we are recognizing common-law and same-sex relationships.

The act also covers the same application that was in effect in the old act.

Mr. Cable: Are we saying that the amendment will open up orders as between spouses as well as orders for support for children?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: For the most part, the orders are between spouses, but they are to deal with family support and, for the main, to deal with child support.

It is possible to come back with a variation, and that has always been the case.

Mr. Cable: I received a letter, and I think - well, the minister received a letter, too - indicating that this sort of transitional clause would cause chaos with respect to orders that had been adjudicated, and in effect we would be inviting re-litigation of the issues.

Is the minister saying that she doesn't share those concerns?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, that particular letter did not acknowledge the fact that the present legislation does in fact contain that clause. The bar may not hold exactly the same opinion on this subject. I understand that some members of the bar are in fact in support of clause 17.

Mr. Cable: The present legislation permits the opening up of a previous order that related to the division of assets. We're now adding the opening up of a previous order for alimony, maintenance or support. Am I reading that correctly?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the clauses on proceedings on rights between spouses are identical to the clauses that were previously in the bill, so I would say that we're not opening up anything that wasn't previously contained in the legislation as I just read out to the member.

Mr. Cable: Okay, I just want to be absolutely certain. Clauses 3(a), 3(b) and 3(c) of the present bill seem to follow generally (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the amendment. Where in the present bill - that's before Bill No. 60 - did we find a clause similar to (e) in the amendment?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: It always was possible to come back for a variation of an order. The official is looking for the sections of the act that also covered that. This clause, though, is to clarify that the new rules apply from the date of proclamation. The rules apply to spouses and dependants, regardless of whether they became spouses or dependants before or after the bill came into force.

Similarly, there is a variation that can be made to apply to support orders that may have been made before the bill comes into force, but may change after the bill comes into force. The changes made to Bill No. 60 also apply when proceedings are underway when the bill comes into force, and applies to orders dealing with alimony, maintenance, or support that were made before this act comes into force.

All of those support orders, whether they were support orders for alimony, maintenance or support, were ones that could be amended. Family members could go to the courts and request a variation in the support order. In this case, changes to the support order must take into account Bill No. 60 and the child support guidelines.

I don't believe there are guidelines that apply to alimony support within the child support guidelines, so I think the effect would be minimal.

Mr. Cable: The variation clause, I think, and the minister's official can verify this, is section 50(1). It says that every order of the Supreme Court under part 1 or part 2 is final unless the Supreme Court declares otherwise at the time when the order is made. Just for the record, does this subsection (e) override that or is section 50(1) still the governing section?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Section 50 still applies, and I've also been advised that section 42 deals with the variation of orders.

Mr. Cable: The question I just want confirmation on is that section 50(1) still governs, and that unless the judge - of the Supreme Court, anyway - declares an order is subject to variation, it's final.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: And the confirmation that I am providing to the member's question is that, yes, that is indeed the case.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 17 agreed to as amended

On Title

Title agreed to

Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I think as we sort of have gone through this act in Committee, we have seen numerous amendments come forward from the minister to make changes to the act and I think it indicates to all members of this House that there could have been a better process we could have followed to prevent the minister from rising in the House today and putting forward several amendments to improve the act.

I would certainly like to give credit to a few people who have participated in this, and certainly the local bar association that came forward fairly quickly, and in particular two or three lawyers who wrote letters to the minister and contacted Mr. Cable and myself with respect to changes, I want to thank. I also want to thank the minister and her staff for arranging the meeting with me, Mr. Cable and some of the members of the local bar. I think many of these amendments arose out of that meeting.

I think it sends a clear message to all of us that we should be looking at a different process for doing this in the future, that there is obviously a better way and maybe the Legislative committee type of approach might be one way of doing it.

We had almost that kind of an approach when we met that day with some of the local bar and the minister's officials and went through it. We could have maybe solved a lot of these problems if we'd have done that in March or April of last year, and we probably could have dealt with this bill without any amendments whatsoever and probably passed it through the House rather quickly.

So, I think the minister should take note of this process and how it seemed to have not worked as well as one would have hoped - and that the communication has to be more open.

We have to deal with these kinds of issues, with respect to this kind of matter, in a different way, and I would hope that the minister would - the next time she comes through the House with this type of legislation that deals with these kinds of matters - certainly take a different approach to it. I think we'd all be better served for our time and the time of the lawyers that were involved, as well as the time that the minister and her staff have to put into it.

So again, I commend the minister's staff, as well as the local lawyers who came forward and had their input - on very short notice, I might add - and I hope this won't happen in future bills.

Chair: Does the title carry?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'll thank the member for what I will take as a constructive suggestion and be prepared to look at a proposal from the member opposite.

I do want to rise, though, in defence of the government and of my officials, who have, in fact, provided considerable opportunity for input from the local bar on the amendments to the Family Property and Support Act. We wrote and requested comments on the proposed amendments to the bill; we also provided draft copies of the bill. I think it's unfortunate that some of the comments that were critical of the amendments did not, in fact, arrive when an opportunity was provided for comment before the bill was tabled, but that the criticism came forward after the bill was tabled.

Any new process that could be considered would have to respect confidentiality and also ensure that there are efforts on the part of all involved to bring forward suggestions for change when that opportunity is provided, and not after the fact.

Title agreed to

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 60 out of Committee with amendment.

Motion agreed to

Chair: We will proceed to Bill No. 57, entitled Estate Administration Act.

Bill No. 57 - Estate Administration Act

Chair: Is there any general debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have some responses to some of the questions that were raised in second reading that I can respond to at this time, and if there are further questions, I'll be happy to answer them for the members.

The department has met with officials from the wills and trusts subsection of the Canadian Bar Association, and they have generally been pleased to be involved in the review of the act.

Clause 17 of the bill deals with security bonds, and the Member for Riverdale North was asking if the bonding will be more costly if it's done in the way that it's proposed in this act. This is how security bonds have been posted in the past, so there will be no effect on costs. In the past, when a bond was required, it was purchased through a bonding company outside of the Yukon, and this will continue to be the case under the new legislation.

There was also a question about section 20 and estates under $10,000, and whether there would be an additional burden for administering those, and if the cost would be passed on to an individual. There will not be an additional burden. Small estates under $25,000 would be administered by the public administrator or lawyers. Under this act, there is not a requirement to prepare complex paperwork to be submitted to the court in order to be authorized to handle small estates.

There was also a question about taking one year from the time a person dies intestate, or without a will, to make final payments from an estate being a concern. This differs very little from the current situation. Interim distributions can be made throughout the course of administering the estate, and it is very common for intestate estates to conclude after one year's time.

Part of the process of administering estates is filing a personal income tax return, as well as an estate income tax return, and paying any outstanding liabilities to Revenue Canada. This process takes several months to complete, so therefore, the one-year time period is not unusual.

The Member for Riverside asked a question in relation to safety deposit boxes, and it appearing to put obligations on the banks. The obligation on the banks is to ensure that, where the deceased held a safety deposit box, either solely or jointly with someone else, that an inventory of the contents of the safety deposit box is done before anything is removed. This is allowed by the Yukon Act, and I think that was the specific question the Member for Riverside had.

Mr. Cable: I had forwarded on to the minister a number of comments that - I believe she's the chair - the wills, trusts and estates subsection had endorsed on a copy of the bill. Has she had a chance to consider any of those comments and, if so, is she going to be bringing forth amendments?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The comments that the member provided to me were personal comments that were written on an embargoed copy of the bill that was an earlier draft of the bill.

The comments have been taken into account and, in many cases, the comments had been acted on in the course of meetings between members of the local bar and the Department of Justice.

On the subject of amendments, I would like to propose that we take a brief recess. What I can provide for the members is to ensure that they have copies of one or two minor amendments that have been prepared for Bill No. 57.

Mr. Jenkins: Perhaps before we take our break I could ask the minister if any consideration has been given to the retroactivity of this act with respect to a person who passes away intestate and is in a common-law relationship? We have quite a number of individuals in and around the Yukon Territory who would welcome being part of the estate that they were in, especially given the consideration they were in that common-law relationship but they are standing outside of the act as it presently exists at great financial penalty and at great costs in a legal uncertainty position with respect to any access into the estate.

Has the minister given any consideration, given that we've tidied up the definition of "common-law spouse" and given that there are some tidying-up measures for that area? Has the minister given any consideration, or will she be giving any consideration, to a retroactivity of, say, the past two years or three years in this respect?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the member is correct that the status of common-law relationships and survivor entitlements has been an issue for many years. I am very pleased to be sponsoring a bill that does update the estate administration in the Yukon and that does recognize common-law relationships. Other jurisdictions have in fact already recognized common-law relationships, and we are, as the member has acknowledged, amending the definitions.

Legislation is almost always made to take effect after such time as it is enacted and proclaimed. It is very difficult to change rules after the fact and to bring into effect a retroactive change. I can think of many examples where people might argue both for and against a change once there is a new regime in place. The general principle of law, however, is that until such time as an act is amended, the existing legislation stands.

We're aware that there have been relationships where common-law status has not been recognized. We are changing the act to recognize and legitimize common-law relationships. It should be noted that there are various acts that do affect the situation of people who have been living in common-law relationships, where the Dependants Relief Act would provide for benefits to partners who have chosen not to marry.

Mr. Jenkins: I'm familiar with the provisions that the minister has outlined but in this session we've already dealt with one act, and that's the removal of the statute of limitations on certain offences. The potential exposure of individuals who felt they were covered would be horrendous in some cases.

What we're looking at by making this specific section retroactive, Mr. Chair, would be to settle a lot of estates that are in legal limbo now and to settle and give some finality to those estates.

In most cases, as is pointed out in a lot of the information I have before me, the estate would be left to a parent or, in fact, to a widow or a widower who was in a legal relationship, despite both partners having not cohabited for, in some cases, decades, and they moved to the Yukon, and they entered into a common-law relationship.

In my opinion, Mr. Chair, and I think in the opinion of many, that individual is being severely penalized by some of the provisions of this act, not making them retroactive to deal with a lot of these matters and to clean them up.

Will the minister consider making that section retroactive? She cited that there might be examples on both sides. For the benefit of the House, if the minister could cite examples that would be negative in this respect, I'd like to hear them, because I don't know of any, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I think that it would be very difficult to go back and retroactively apportion an estate to different family members. I can certainly consider what the member is suggesting, but it is something that is difficult in most circumstances, and it is very uncommon to provide for legislation that enacts retroactive positions.

I think it would be particularly difficult if you're dealing with an estate where someone has been deceased even two months or six months or a year and a half or three years ago.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, perhaps when we break, the minister will have some time to discuss this with her officials because, as far as I see, if it hasn't been adjudicated, it could be open and it could be made retroactive.

I understand that the Canadian Charter of Rights has some clauses in it - some sections - dealing with retroactivity, but I am not aware of how they cross-reference to this act. This retroactivity would be in the interest of settling some of the outstanding estates that we have in place and, also, to ensure that spouses in a common-law relationship are treated in an expedient manner.

So, perhaps when we have a break, the minister would have an opportunity, and I'm looking for her assurance that she'll undertake that kind of review, Mr. Chair.

Chair: Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Ten minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with Bill No. 57. Is there further general debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the Estate Administration Act applies and makes rules on people who are alive today. If someone dies after this bill comes into effect, then the new rules apply.

The Member for Klondike was asking questions dealing with a retroactive case where someone died before this act came into effect. A retroactive definition would require that we go back in time and that the parties appear before the courts to change all of the orders and settlements that have occurred for whatever period of time one might agree to support a retroactive definition for.

It's very difficult to go back to court and amend what has been a final order. The principle in law generally is that things can change from today's date forward, but not from today's date backward. This would create a lot of uncertainty, and be very difficult.

Mr. Jenkins: Now, Mr. Chair, we just did that in the family support act. Some of the changes are retroactive - they appear to be - and they appear to be retroactive. But what I am looking for is for those that haven't gone through, and the final decision from the public administrator hasn't been made to clean up those outstanding ones that are still in limbo. Not the cases that are closed, not the cases that are final, with respect to an estate - the ones that are still open, still pending, and still outstanding, where movement can't be made on either party. There's still an estate disposition required.

Those are the ones where I am looking for some form of retroactivity.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: First of all, let me make sure that there's no misunderstanding about the child support guidelines.

In family situations where a couple has broken up, there are ongoing obligations to the child. What the Family Property and Support Act amendments do is change how much support may be owed for a child. However, those changes do not apply retroactively. If a couple or one parent wants to go to court to say, "There are new federal child support guidelines in effect in the Yukon; I think I'm entitled to a minimum of $300 a month support for my child, and before I only got $250 a month for my child; I'd like to go to court and apply for a variation of the child support order," they can do that. The judge can order a variation in the child support order. However, the variation in the child support order does not apply retroactively. It only applies to the future, after the date that the child support guidelines come into effect.

What I would like to suggest for the Member for Klondike is to arrange a meeting for him with the officials within my department to deal with the constituency case that he is raising questions about now and see if we might be able to explain matters there, rather than get into the personal situations of people here in the Legislature.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, but it's not just one case in my constituency. It's more than one that I'm aware of that have been brought to my attention. So if it was just one case, I wouldn't bring it to the floor of this Legislature, unless it was extremely important which, in my opinion, it is, and it would be justified, but there is more than one person affected by this section. I would see the issue of resolving these outstanding situations much more easily done by making sections of this act retroactive than moving ahead from this time forward.

Chair: Is there further general debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Over the break, I had photocopies made of proposed amendments to the bill. In virtually all cases, they have to do with minor wording changes. There is an amendment to section 7(1) that members of the local wills, trusts and estates subsection had requested and that is the only substantial amendment.

Members now have a copy of those and if they'd like to take a minute or two to review them before we go into the clause by clause, I have some general introductions on the bill.

Chair: Is there further debate?

Mr. Cable: There were some recommendations made by at least one of the members of the wills, trusts and estates subsection of the bar association relating to the safety deposit boxes. I passed that information along to the minister last week. Has she had some time to consider those recommendations? I note that there was a letter sent by the past cair of that subsection to the Department of Justice, dated November 17, 1998, that outlines the concerns relating to safety deposit boxes.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair, and we have reviewed comments. Some members of the estates, wills and trusts subsection appear to be in support of the amendments as put forward, and others are not. If a deceased person held a safety deposit box either in their own name or jointly with another person, what this act provides is that the safety deposit box must not be removed, or the contents of it must not be removed, until the representative of the deceased or the person whose name the safety deposit box was held jointly with the deceased hasmade an inventory of the contents. This is similar to the provisions that apply to any other property that the deceased may have owned.

Mr. Cable: Well, we can deal with this in greater length when we get there. It's just that it appears from this letter dated November 17, 1998, that the subsection did not agree with the safety deposit box provisions.

Has the minister got that letter in front of her?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, I have the letter here, Mr. Chair. If you give me a minute, I expect I'll have it in front of me.

Yes, I do have the letter. What is the member's question?

Mr. Cable: Well, when we get to the safety deposit box provisions, I would like to draw the minister's attention to - and get her response to - the issues that were raised. Among others, paragraph 1, subclause (a) says, for the record: "Our collective position is that our members do not generally favour clause 113..." and then there are three reasons set forward why that clause is not favoured. I'd like, for the record, to deal with those reasons.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This letter, dated November 17, was written prior to a meeting that my officials held with both the past chair and the current chair of the wills, trusts and estates subsection of CBA Yukon. It is my understanding that the current chair does acknowledge that section 113 is used in British Columbia and is an issue that is of general concern.

What we're weighing is the privacy of the deceased person, who may have had a safety deposit box jointly with another person, and how the estate is disposed of, whether the contents of that security box should be inventoried along with all the other complete records that are kept of the deceased's estate that should be available to their heirs.

Mr. Cable: I haven't spoken to the current chair. The minister indicated that section 113 is used in British Columbia, and that came out in a conversation, I think, between her officials and the current chair. Was the current chair in effect saying he or she supported section 113?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes.

Chair: Is there further debate? Seeing none, we will proceed to clause 1.

On Clause 1

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In prt 1, the definitions that are commonly used in the act are set out.

Mr. Cable: I note from the comments that were given to me by the past chair of the wills, trusts and estates subsection, that she thought it would be useful for a definition of "residue", a term that's used in practically every will, to be put in the bill.

What are the minister's thoughts on that suggestion?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In the actual bill, there is reference to surplus. The surplus of an estate is what is left over after payment of debits and funeral expenses, any pay for a personal representative and the testamentary expenses. The general content of the bill and use of these sections is something that is covered within the bill itself.

Mr. Cable: What was the reason for the use of the term "surplus" as opposed to "residue"? I think "residue" is the conventional term that's used in a will.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: "Surplus" seems to be a fairly common term that is used in other estate administration legislation. "Surplus" means the same thing as "residue". "Surplus" means what remains of an estate after the outstanding bills have been paid.

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In part 2 of the act, the process to be followed when applying for the right to handle a deceased person's estate is set out. This part also outlines the duties and responsibilities of an executor or administrator. This part applies whether the deceased died with a will or died intestate - without a will.

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Clause 4

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Clause 5 agreed to

On Clause 6

Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister confirm that a widow or widower - the common-law definition - that would all flow into that arrangement?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, under the new definitions in the definition section of the "common-law spouse", they have the right to apply for permission to administer the estate.

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move

THAT Bill No. 57, entitled Estate Administration Act, be amended in clause 7(1) on page 5, by:

deleting paragraphs 7(1)(a) to (c) in the said clause and replacing them with the following paragraphs:

"(a) a person dies intestate, or

(b) a person leaves a will, but without having appointed an executor willing, competent and able to take probate."

Amendment agreed to

Clause 7 agreed to as amended

On Clause 8

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Clause 9 agreed to

On Clause 10

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move

THAT Bill No 57, entitled Estate Administration Act, be amended in subclause 11(6) on page 7 by:

substituting the word "during" for the word "pending".

Amendment agreed to

Clause 11 agreed to as amended

On Clause 12

Mr. Cable: The note I have is that where it reads "could be granted under section 6", the woman who wrote the minister a letter passed on some comments and thought that the addition of "or 7" should be in there so that it would read, "under sections 6 or 7". Is there some validity to that suggestion?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I indicated earlier in the debate this afternoon, the officials in my department met with both the past chair and the present chair of the estates, wills and trusts subsection of the Canadian Bar Association on all of the comments that had been written in the margin of an earlier embargoed version of the bill. At that meeting, it was agreed that the section 12(1)(a), as it's presently written, is fine in referring to section 6, and that there was not a reason to add section 7. It wasn't necessary.

Clause 12 agreed to

On Clause 13

Clause 13 agreed to

On Clause 14

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Clause 15 agreed to

On Clause 16

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I guess there is some concern that a bond must be issued in all cases. Has the minister given consideration to allowing the judge some discretion about enforcing a bond in all cases?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This is the normal practice - that an administrator must obtain a bond made in favour of the administrator and drawn in a form of proof by the rules of the court in order to prepare an inventory of the deceased person's estate.

I think it is in protection of the public interest. However, there is a clause that provides that the court may dispense with the requirement for the bond that is set out further in the bill.

Clause 16 agreed to

On Clause 17

Clause 17 agreed to

On Clause 18

Clause 18 agreed to

On Clause 19

Clause 19 agreed to

On Clause 20

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, how did we establish these values of $25,000 and, like, under $10,000 there being no need for a formal administrator? How were these arrived at?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This clause was arrived at in consultation with the wills, trusts and estates subsection of the Canadian Bar Association. The B.C. legislation sets the small estate at $10,000. The suggestion from the bar was that $25,000 would be an appropriate benchmark for a small estate in the territory.

Mr. Jenkins: But, given our frequency with which we revisit these acts and review them and update them, we're probably looking at some considerable period of time before we get back into this act. Could consideration not be given to some flexibility as to the setting of the total amount for a small estate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Is the member suggesting that $25,000 is too high of a figure, or is he suggesting a lower figure be used?

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, what I'm suggesting is that $25,000 might sit very comfortably today, but $25,000, when this act first came into force, would have been a very excessive amount but, 10 years down the road, $25,000 might not be worth very much.

So, given inflation, given the way that estates are growing, consideration should be given to some flexibility in that amount.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: At the present time, the public administrator does handle a lot of estates that are under $25,000. It did seem to be an appropriate figure. I can tell the member that, while we set a figure where the value of the estate is below $25,000, the administration is generally simpler, that there may very well be amendments before 10 years are up. It is possible to amend that section of the act without it being a long, onerous process, particularly if there's simply an amendment recommended to say that, in the current financial climate, $30,000, or $40,000, should be considered a small estate.

I believe you do need to have a figure that you assign as being where the rules are changed, with a slightly more demanding set of rules applying to estates over $25,000.

Mr. Jenkins: I guess, then, that leads to a corollary to that question. If we're going to set these in legislation, can we have a review every three or five years or something of that nature, set into this act? This amount will be reviewed every three years or five years, or something of that nature. Would the minister entertain some sort of a friendly amendment in that regard?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, it is the case at the present time that legislation that is administered by officials, whether it's in the Department of Justice or in other sections of the act, is reviewed on an ongoing basis, and where complaints or questions come forward on a regular basis, that's brought to the attention of the minister, to consider whether amendments are needed.

I would point out to the member that there is, in fact, reference to a lot of different values of estates throughout the bill. I do not see that as a weakness or as creating a particular difficulty that requires a legislated review on a three-year or a five-year basis. What I can say is, at the present time the public administrator is responsible for administration of a number of estates that are small, that are under $25,000 in value. If we see that there are an awful lot of estates between $25,000 and $30,000 during the next three to five years, then we would certainly entertain an amendment to increase the value.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, let's look at another piece of legislation that has the fair wage schedule outlined. It is going to be legislated that that be reviewed every three years. What I'm looking at is some legal certainty that we're going to look at this, say, every five years. That's all.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, I haven't heard the member make a case for why that would be required in the legislation. If we don't see a problem that needs to be legislated in that manner, then I don't see that it is necessary.

The section on the administration of estates that are less than $25,000 is generally self-explanatory. It sets out the case of the powers of a public administrator or some other person who may have been appointed by the court to have authority to administer the estate. If there is a need in the future to increase the amount that is included under small estates, then I'm certain that the government of the day would be amenable to that.

Clause 20 agreed to

On Clause 21

Clause 21 agreed to

On Clause 22

Clause 22 agreed to

On Clause 23

Clause 23 agreed to

On Clause 24

Clause 24 agreed to

On Clause 25

Clause 25 agreed to

On Clause 26

Clause 26 agreed to

On Clause 27

Clause 27 agreed to

On Clause 28

Clause 28 agreed to

On Clause 29

Mr. Jenkins: Are we fully comfortable now that this will dovetail into the Trustee Act amendments, and there will be no conflict, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, this section applies if the discharging of the personal representative's accounts have been passed under section 55 and court does not require any further passing of accounts.

Clause 29 agreed to

On Clause 30

Clause 30 agreed to

On Clause 31

Clause 31 agreed to

On Clause 32

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: With clause 32, that completes part 4, which defines a personal representative and sets out the process that that person must follow when seeking discharge of their responsibilities toward the estate of another person.

In part 5, the section we are entering now, we provide a legislative basis for directing the activities of the public administrator.

Clause 32 agreed to

On Clause 33

Mr. Cable: I take particular delight in reading this clause. I remember getting a lecture a couple of weeks ago about the term "jointly and severally" being archaic. I think I've seen it in one act that's been added to this legislative bill since then. Surely this archaic language here about "messuages", whatever they are, "tenements and hereditaments". That could be cleaned up. Why are we using that? I'm sure that is 1800s English?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, the member is correct. This is historic legal language, and it is a historic legal definition that has been in effect for some years.

I have requested that we consider how to ensure that plain language is used in our legislation. This particular definition of "estate" was used because it has served well in the past and is, at present, used in other estate administration and other estate legislation, right across the country.

The meeting with the Canadian Bar Association that was held last week to go over the final version of the bill with the bar came up with the recommendation to leave the language as it was, notwithstanding the personal comments that the member was provided of an embargoed copy of the bill - earlier before this act was completed for presentation to the House.

Mr. Cable: The reason I ask the question is that I had garnered from the minister's comments a couple of weeks ago that the minister's department is interested in converting bills into plain language, and I don't think more than 0.1 percent of the population would have the foggiest idea what section 33 means.

Clause 33 agreed to

On Clause 34

Clause 34 agreed to

On Clause 35

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, this appears that we're requiring additional public administrators and, from my information, the number of estates that are handled have been fairly consistent for about the last decade here in the Yukon. Why is there a need for this classification of deputy public administrators?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, just to clarify for the member, this section does not mean that we are creating an additional position within the Department of Justice. What these clauses of the act do is allow for the designation of a deputy public administrator who can perform the job duties that a public administrator normally does. If there is a vacancy in the office of the public administrator, or if a public administrator is away on leave, there may be a deputy administrator who has the ability to perform the duties of the public administrator, but it is not an additional position.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, given the powers that the public administrator can confer under clause 36, why is there a need for clause 35, given the consistency of the number of estates that have been handled? Why do we have to handle it several different ways?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, in clause 35 of the act, we are setting up where we may appoint a deputy public administrator to perform duties if the public administrator is absent or if the position is vacant.

We also allow the public administrator to delegate powers to others. We have to provide for the job to be done in the event that a public administrator may not be present in the territory and able to act. I don't see sections 35 and 36 as being inconsistent with each other.

Mr. Jenkins: Well certainly, Mr. Chair, the minister can see that, under section 36, the public administrator can confer a tremendous amount of his or her powers and responsibilities to other individuals, which would allow for holidays or absence of the public administrator. I'm just getting at this: why the need at this juncture for a deputy public administrator?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there have been occasions in the past where the public administrator has delegated their duties to a lawyer who is not a member of the public service. What section 35 does is allow for the appointment of a deputy public administrator, who can act in the public administrator's absence and may perform the job duties that the public administrator would normally do if they were not absent or there were not a vacancy in the office.

What is done in section 36 is establish the ability of the public administrator to delegate their duties to someone who may be outside the public service. There may be a particular case where there's a need to appoint a lawyer from outside the public service to act on a matter.

This framework is consistent with the legislation in other jurisdictions - it's not our intent to create a whole pool of deputy public administrators, or to delegate their duties. In the normal course of events, the public administrator will perform the duties that are set out in this act themselves. In the event of their absence, they may delegate others to do the job.

Clause 35 agreed to

On Clause 36

Clause 36 agreed to

On Clause 37

Mr. Cable: Is the public administrator bonded at the present time?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, not at the present time.

Mr. Cable: What's the reason for having the public administrator provide security?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This is provided as security for dealing with future matters in conducting the administration of estates.

Mr. Cable: If the public administrator is not bonded now and the public administrator is a public employee, and presumably the public administrator wouldn't pay any money out of her own pocket for security, what's the reason for it? That seems to be moving money back and forth around different pockets.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: This act carries through a requirement that previously existed under the Judicature Act where the public administrator would be required to provide for security.

Mr. Cable: Is that generally, or in relation to an estate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In the Judicature Act, the requirement was to provide for security to be covered generally, not strictly, and only in the case of estates.

Mr. Cable: So we're then saying that the public administrator has provided security under the Judicature Act. Has she?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The requirement was present in the Judicature Act, Mr. Chair. I understand that the requirement has not been acted upon in the past. However, the requirement had been there and, as security, this requirement was carried forward into clause 37.

Chair: Order please. The time being about 5:30 p.m., Committee will recess until 7:30 p.m.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with Bill No. 57. We are on clause 37. Is there further debate?

Mr. Cable: When we adjourned, Mr. Chair, I was asking the minister why we're spending public money on obtaining security for the administrator. It seems to me that I assume we'd have to buy this security from the insurance company. Seeing that there aren't a lot of millionaires that die intestate in this jurisdiction, one wouldn't think that the risk would be very large. Why wouldn't that sort of risk be self-insured by the government?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, in speaking with some of my officials over the break about the section on requiring the provision for security, this is essentially someone who protects the public administrator in performing their duties if there may be allegations of missing funds or missing items.

The Commissioner in Executive Council will determine the level of security that is appropriate for this office, but it is a fairly standard clause in estate administration legislation for the security both of the public and of the public administrator.

Mr. Cable: I can bet you, though, that the public administrator isn't going to go into her pocket and pay for the security, so it's basically a government expenditure to an insurance company, I assume, so I don't really see what the benefit is - why the government can't absorb that risk.

There isn't a large risk. The estates that the public administrator handles might be, what, a few hundred thousand dollars at the most. Exposure is very small.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, as the member is aware, the person in the position has to be trusted and be able to be bonded. Certainly, we have trust in the competence of our public service generally and of the public administrator in particular.

This section was requested since it is used in most estate administration legislation to provide for the security both of the public and of the public administrator.

Clause 37 agreed to

On Clause 38

Clause 38 agreed to

On Clause 39

Clause 39 agreed to

On Clause 40

Mr. Jenkins:    I'm aware of a number of cases where the deceased would have relatives in the Yukon, yet most of their relatives, by a proper marriage, resided outside of the Yukon, so I do have some concerns with this clause.

How would we determine, if there are relatives in the Yukon - let's say by a common-law relationship - and there are previous relatives from a marital relationship where no divorce proceedings have taken place, but that was in another jurisdiction, the person subsequently moved to the Yukon, and there are children of this common-law relationship - how do they fit into this total picture?

How would they be treated under this clause, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I think I can help the member with this if I point out that in the next clause, clause 41, it states that the public administrator must make application if the heirs or next of kin who reside in the Yukon renounce a request that an administrator be appointed. So if there are relatives of the deceased who could apply for administration of the estate, they are not precluded from doing that by clause 40. Clause 40 only applies where there are no other relatives in the Yukon who can take out letters of administration.

Clause 40 agreed to

On Clause 41

Clause 41 agreed to

On Clause 42

Clause 42 agreed to

On Clause 43

Clause 43 agreed to

On Clause 44

Clause 44 agreed to

On Clause 45

Clause 45 agreed to

On Clause 46

Clause 46 agreed to

On Clause 47

Clause 47 agreed to

On Clause 48

Clause 48 agreed to

On Clause 49

Clause 49 agreed to

On Clause 50

Clause 50 agreed to

On Clause 51

Clause 51 agreed to

On Clause 52

Clause 52 agreed to

On Clause 53

Clause 53 agreed to

On Clause 54

Clause 54 agreed to

On Clause 55

Clause 55 agreed to

On Clause 56

Clause 56 agreed to

On Clause 57

Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, will this section dovetail into the land titles in the Yukon?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, it will, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Jenkins: The existing land titles? Or are amendments required?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, we're not aware of any changes that are required to land titles legislation. Part 7, which sets out the powers and duties and liabilities of executors and administrators - those duties can all be performed working within the existing land titles regime.

Clause 57 agreed to

On Clause 58

Clause 58 agreed to

On Clause 59

Mr. Cable: One of the comments that was made to me by the person who went over the act was a description of the Workers' Compensation Act. Is there an explanation of the short form in subsection (11)?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair. Apparently that comment showed up each time that the Workers' Compensation Act was mentioned. The Workers' Compensation Act is the correct title of the act. We do not refer to it any longer as the Workman's Compensation Act.

Mr. Cable: Oh, I see. Well, I thought it was the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board Act.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I believe that Justice officials checked the accurate title of the act and that it is correctly referred to in this law.

Clause 59 agreed to

On Clause 60

Clause 60 agreed to

Chair: We're halfway there.

On Clause 61

Mr. Jenkins: What insurance act does this relate to - the Yukon Insurance Act, Mr. Chair, or any specific one?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the section that the member refers to is 61.(1), which applies if the person who committed the wrong was insured against liability for loss or damage in a motor vehicle liability policy. This section means that any action that would have been possible while the deceased person was alive can be continued or launched after the person is deceased. It refers to any motor vehicle liability policy that may have been in effect if they were in a motor vehicle accident, for instance, and charges may have been laid and loss or damage suffered.

Clause 61 agreed to

On Clause 62

Clause 62 agreed to

On Clause 63

Clause 63 agreed to

On Clause 64

Clause 64 agreed to

On Clause 65

Clause 65 agreed to

On Clause 66

Clause 66 agreed to

On Clause 67

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: In clause 67(6), I would like to ask members if they will agree to the insertion of the word "the" between "in" and "outstanding." If members agree to insert that word as a correction of a typographical error, then I don't need to move it as a formal amendment to be adopted. The clause should read: "... and does not make it unnecessary to get in the outstanding subsisting legal estate." Is there agreement to that?

Chair: Is there is unanimous consent?

Mr. Cable: Yes, I believe there is unanimous consent, but there is another issue that was raised with me in relation to clause 67(2).

It was noted by the person who gave me advice that the trustee can sell a mortgage, and the suggestion was that the right to lease be added to that. Does the minister have any position on that?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I understand it, it was agreed at the meeting held with the subsection last week that the existing language would be able to cover leasing as part of selling the property or part of it, or mortgaging part of it - that a lease arrangement could be covered under the existing legislation.

Mr. Cable: Is the minister saying that subsection (a) covers a lease, sale and an absolute disposition?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair, what I am saying is that when the department reviewed the subsections within this section with the subsection of the Canadian Bar Association, they agreed that the language, as presently presented, was not a problem.

Mr. Cable: Let's leave for a moment whether the bar agreed to it. What's the problem with including a leasing right, and spelling it out in clear terms?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Leasing the land is not a sale, Mr. Chair. This section of the act is to allow for the real property to be sold in order to raise money to dispose of the estate. Leasing the land is not a sale, so it's not dealt with here. This is to dispose of land. Within section 67, the various subsections are to do with the disposition of land to settle the estate.

Clause 67 agreed to

On Clause 68

Clause 68 agreed to

On Clause 69

Clause 69 agreed to

On Clause 70

Clause 70 agreed to

On Clause 71

Clause 71 agreed to

On Clause 72

Clause 72 agreed to

On Clause 73

Mr. Cable: Just for the record, what is the term "net real or personal estate" - is that equivalent to the residue, or the surplus?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I believe the member's getting just a little bit ahead of me.

In clause 74, I have an amendment to add a subclause, which defines "net real or personal estate".

Clause 73 agreed to

On Clause 74

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move

THAT Bill No. 57, entitled Estate Administration Act, be amended in clause 74 on page 48 by adding the following new subclause (6):

"(7) In this section, 'net real or personal estate' means the value of the real or personal estate after the payment of charges against the estate, debts of the estate, funeral expenses and administration expenses."

Mr. Cable: Is that equivalent to the term "surplus" as it is used previously in the act?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, it is, Mr. Chair; however, there was a request that, in this section, we insert a definition of "net real or personal estate", so we are happy to oblige.

Mr. Cable: Why would we change verbiage halfway through the act if we used "surplus" throughout to mean the net estate after the initial payment of funeral expenses and debts. Why wouldn't we stick with that term so there isn't any ambiguity in the act?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we did refer to the expression "residue" although residue of an estate or surplus of an estate has not been legally defined in the definitions section of the act.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 74 agreed to as amended

On Clause 75

Mr. Jenkins: Well, we're dealing here with a minor. What happens to the guardian of that minor? What rights does the guardian have over the estate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft:Mr. Chair, a guardian of a minor child could apply to be the trustee of the estate - now, this is going back to section 72 - but the interests of the minor child are protected in the legislation.

Clause 75 agreed to

On Clause 76

Mr. Jenkins: We did explore earlier with the minister the potential of allowing sections of this act to be retroactive, and we're into such a section - that whole grouping. This is one of the major ones that comes to light. I know the minister was quite adamant in stating there is no retroactivity, yet we have examples of retroactivity in our acts on a continuing basis, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to try that approach once more with the minister.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I don't understand the connection the member is drawing here. Could he explain his position for me again, please?

Mr. Jenkins: I am just trying for another kick at the cat, Mr. Chair, for retroactivity of a number of clauses of this act for common-law relationships, and this is one clause that would certainly be applicable.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, nothing in this clause changes or affects the order in which the real or personal assets apply toward the payment of whether it's funeral or other debt expenses that have been left behind by the deceased. The real estate property of the deceased must be administered in the same manner as the personal estate, and the real estate is subject to liabilities for debt and costs and expenses if the person were still alive. I'm sure that the member can appreciate that it would be very difficult to have a law apply retroactively, whether it was dealing with estates or with other matters.

Clause 76 agreed to

On Clause 77

Clause 77 agreed to

On Clause 78

Clause 78 agreed to

On Clause 79

Clause 79 agreed to

On Clause 80

Clause 80 agreed

On Clause 81

Mr. Cable: The issue was raised whether the Latin term "per stirpes" makes for an equal distribution and whether to clarify that, the verbiage "equally and per stirpes" should be used instead.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There was discussion of this at the meeting held with the subsection and the departmental officials last week. There was general discussion of "per stirpes", which is a legal definition, and it is a term used in the law of defence and distribution.

There was agreement that usage of the term would be adequate, just using it as is. However, having received the benefit of a very useful and clear explanation, let me offer it to the member opposite. For example, if Jane Smith dies, leaving three children, then her estate would be divided equally between the three of them. If one of those three children had died before the parent and had left two children, then the estate of Jane Smith would still be divided in three shares, but the child who had predeceased the parent would have their portion of the estate applied to them.

So the grandchildren wouldn't have a larger amount of the estate. What would happen is that the grandchildren would divvy up the child's portion - that's what the "per stirpes" definition of applying the division of the estate into equal portions among the descendents of the deceased means.

And I hope you all enjoyed that.

Mr. Cable: I'm reminded by the Clerk - I don't know if he wants me talking about his legal advice to me here - I put on one of my documents that my pension, I think, should be divided per stirpes but -

Is it inherent in the term, though, that the word "equal" is there - "equally" and "per stirpes"? Because this is the recommendation that was given to me by a lawyer who practises in this area.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I think that the simple answer for the member would be to say yes, there was agreement that use of the term "per stirpes" would in fact ensure that the division of the estate would be such that it was divided equally among the children of the deceased.

Clause 81 agreed to

On Clause 82

Clause 82 agreed to

On Clause 83

Clause 83 agreed to

On Clause 84

Clause 84 agreed to

On Clause 85

Clause 85 agreed to

On Clause 86

Clause 86 agreed to

On Clause 87

Clause 87 agreed to

On Clause 88

Clause 88 agreed to

On Clause 89

Clause 89 agreed to

On Clause 90

Clause 90 agreed to

On Clause 91

Clause 91 agreed to

On Clause 92

Clause 92 agreed to

On Clause 93

Clause 93 agreed to

On Clause 94

Clause 94 agreed to

On Clause 95

Mr. Cable: Is the verbiage "surplus" used in other jurisdictions? I think the minister commented on that earlier, but just to refresh my memory.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, I believe this language was used in the B.C. act. It is interpreted as much as possible to be identical with provisions in other jurisdictions that are the same or substantially the same.

Clause 95 agreed to

On Clause 96

Clause 96 agreed to

On Clause 97

Clause 97 agreed to

On Clause 98

Clause 98 agreed to

On Clause 99

Clause 99 agreed to

On Clause 100

Clause 100 agreed to

On Clause 101

Clause 101 agreed to

On Clause 102

Clause 102 agreed to

On Clause 103

Mr. Jenkins: Just on a point of clarification, why are we spelling out that security consists of a mortgage on real estate? Why do we get into ships and shipping in this section? Why just specifically that area, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, in preparing the Estate Administration Act legislation, we reviewed the laws in other jurisdictions and this was found to be the case in other jurisdictions. I suppose it's not completely uncommon for security on a mortgage to be ships or shipping.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, in this day and age, it's more apt to be an encumbrance on an aircraft. A lot of us are involved in leasing companies, leasing back to major airlines. Why is that not spelled out? Why just ships? Why did we specifically dwell on ships and shipping?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as I indicated previously, the legislation in effect in other jurisdictions was used as a model and this is where it has appeared.

Clause 103 agreed to

On Clause 104

Clause 104 agreed to

On Clause 105

Mr. Cable: I wonder if the minister could tell us how this would work? Would somebody who is probating an estate have to run down and search the registry for caveats?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, that's what happens, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Cable: What kind of problem are we trying to solve with this clause?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, a caveat is a legal term that means formal notice given by an interested party to a court. So, if there has been a formal notice filed in a court, then this process may be used in the court to prevent approving of a will or a grant of administration, either temporarily or provisionally.

Mr. Cable: Does that put an onus on the court staff who are feeding the judge the documents to ensure that there are no caveats?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: A caveat would be filed, and there would be a court number in each estate. So, the records would include the court number of an estate so that the process could be used and there would be a record of whether any outstanding charges had been filed against the estate.

Mr. Cable: Is the minister saying that this is a notice of a charge, or it's a disagreement with the granting of the probate for administration?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There may be a notice of a charge filed. A creditor could file a notice of a charge if a debt is owed. It could be that an executor or beneficiary may file a notice if they disagree with the charge.

The member had asked about conducting a search, and I want him to understand that a court number is assigned in any case where a caveat may be filed, and the same court number is used in each estate to make it easier, simpler, to find any other relevant court documents.

Mr. Cable: Oh, yes, that's granted, but whose obligation is it to search for these things? Is it the people who are feeding the judge the documents or the applicant? What's the purpose of the caveat?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, it would be the executor or the administrator of the estate or the personal representative of the executor or administrator.

Clause 105 agreed to

On Clause 106

Clause 106 agreed to

On Clause 107

Clause 107 agreed to

On Clause 108

Clause 108 agreed to

On Clause 109

Clause 109 agreed to

On Clause 110

Clause 110 agreed to

On Clause 111

Clause 111 agreed to

On Clause 112

Mr. Cable: What's the common practice in other jurisdictions? Do they leave the fees to be set by the courts, or are they set by the government by regulation?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Both government regulation and rules of court are used to set the fees. It does vary.

Clause 112 agreed to

On Clause 113

Mr. Cable: I think this is the section that the minister had indicated earlier that the present chair of the rules, trusts and estates subsection agreed with, but other persons didn't. Could the minister indicate what problem this section is aimed at? Why is it necessary to take away the discretion that a joint holder of a safety deposit box would have?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the section provides that, where the deceased held a safety deposit box jointly with another person, that safety deposit box must not be removed, or have the contents of it removed, until the deceased's representative has completed an inventory of what was in the safety deposit box.

The protection that's being sought here is obvious. If I have a safety deposit box with a friend or a family member that is held jointly, then the contents of that safety deposit box will be listed as part of the listing that is done of all of the assets of the deceased. Those assets would then be divided either according to the will, if there were a will, or according to the provisions in the bill, would be divided among the heirs of the deceased.

Mr. Cable: Well, this is a situation then where the box is, in one circumstance, held jointly rather than the assets in the box. Is that what we're dealing with?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The safety deposit box may be held jointly, but that is provided for here, and the contents of the safety deposit box may in fact be joint property or may be the property of one party or the other. What is being done here is creating the protection for the deceased of having the contents of the box listed along with the other assets of the deceased.

If the other party wants to make a case that some of the assets that were in that safety deposit box were only theirs and did not belong to the deceased, they're still able to make that case. The section provides that an inventory must be prepared of the contents of the safety deposit box where the deceased held the safety deposit box either solely or jointly with another person.

Mr. Jenkins: On the issue of a safety deposit box being jointly shared, how long would it be before - let's say in the case of a husband and wife - the surviving spouse could remove anything rightfully theirs from that safety deposit box? Would there be time limits placed on that after the inventory is done?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Once the inventory has been prepared - and in the case the member mentioned, if there is property in the safety deposit box and some of it was solely the property of the surviving spouse once the inventory has been prepared - the surviving spouse would be able to remove that property from the safety deposit box.

Mr. Jenkins: And not before, whatsoever - before that inventory is done. I know of cases where the passport of a spouse was contained in the safety deposit box, and they couldn't obtain their passport to travel, and they had to travel. It was a long procedure before they could obtain the passport - their own passport.

How do we circumvent this kind of situation, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Usually the inventory of a safety deposit box is done fairly quickly, with the bank officials. The public administrator, who's with me in the House, advises that she has not seen a lengthy delay in preparing an inventory of the contents of a safety deposit box.

Usually in listing the contents of a safety deposit box, they're looking for a will - if a will has not already been found - and in the case the member suggests, where there is a passport belonging to a surviving family member, I would think that experience has certainly demonstrated that the bank officials do cooperate in preparing an inventory in a timely manner, and that there's no question who a passport belongs to. I don't believe that there would be any difficulty with the surviving family member having access to their own passport.

Mr. Cable: Just to go off on a little different tack from what the Bar Association was talking about - if the original will is in the safety deposit box, and the other joint tenant of the safety deposit box is not to be found, how do we get the administration of the estate moved forward? There doesn't seem to be any timelines on the preparation of the inventory, or have I missed that?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, in subclause (4), the statement is made that the original of the will can be removed after the inventory is prepared.

Mr. Cable: But there doesn't appear to be any time limits on the preparation of the inventory.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, there aren't any time limits set up.

I am advised that the experience has been that where it's necessary to prepare an inventory of the contents of a safety deposit box, that can be, and is, conducted by the necessary officials - in the case of someone who has been deceased, an executor or a public administrator and the bank officials - in a fairly quick order.

Mr. Cable: Well, I think that might be the case where the deceased person held the safety deposit box solely, but what if there's a joint holder and the holder either doesn't make himself or herself available or they can't be found? Is there some remedy to move the inventory along?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: If the key to the safety deposit box is found in the personal effects of the deceased and there is a person who jointly holds the safety deposit box but they are unable to be found or unwilling to come forward, then the public administrator or executor can use the key that was found in the personal effects to go to the bank and to request that the inventory of the items in the safety deposit box be prepared.

Mr. Jenkins: Would the minister consider some timelines to ensure that this takes place forthwith?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, that is normally one of the first items that is checked. The public administrator or the executor provides a copy of the death certificate to the bank and receives a copy of the inventory of the contents of the safety deposit box without delay. This part on procedure and evidence in part 12 contains a number of general provisions relating to the powers of the court and the court requirements, notice provisions and requirements for executors or administrators to file an accounting of the estate. The normal practice is to conduct this business as quickly as possible, and there have not been timelines on the general sections that have to do with the procedure that is followed in administering the estate.

Does the member have some reason for thinking that a safety deposit box, separate from the other sections in this act, would need to be subject to a time limit? The public administrator has advised me that the safety deposit boxes are normally opened as a priority and that the banks are cooperative in preparing the inventory of personal effects that may be in the safety deposit box.

Mr. Cable: Maybe it's just a matter of being satisfied as to, sort of, the syntax in clause 113(1). It talks about the safety deposit box being held solely or jointly, and at the end of that subclause, it talks about the representative of the deceased or a person in whose name the safety deposit box was jointly leased being the parties present for the taking of the inventory. So, I assume, from what the minister is saying, that this is an either/or situation. The representative of the deceased can attend or the other joint tenant can attend with the bank official to take the inventory. Is that what we're saying here?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, Mr. Chair. That is the case. In practice, an attempt is made to have the representative of the deceased and the person in whose name the safety deposit box was jointly held both be present for the preparation of the inventory.

Chair: The time being about 8:30 p.m., is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Chair: Ten minutes.


Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with Bill No. 57. We're on clause 113. Is there further debate?

Clause 113 agreed to

On Clause 114

Amendment proposed

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move

THAT Bill No. 57, entitled Estate Administration Act, be amended in clause 114 on page 72 by:

inserting the following expression after the word "may: "after having given notice to the Senior Judge of the Supreme Court".

Mr. Cable: I thought we had earlier been told that for certain of the fees, anyway, for documents obtained from the registry the rules of court would govern. Is it anticipated that those are going to be changed?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there is no intent at the present time to change the rules of court. It is expected that the rules of court will continue to be the guideline for prescribing fees for the public administrator. This sets the permission that the Commissioner and Executive Council may amend or order or make or annul rules of court.

Mr. Cable: Just to make sure I'm reading this section 114 properly, is it anticipated that the fees will be under the rules of court, or are they going to be set by regulation? Because it says that the Commissioner in Executive Council may, by order, and then, with the amendment, make, amend or annul rules of court for the purpose of carrying out this act, and for prescribing fees. So, the fees are going to be found in the rules of court. Is that what the minister is saying?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, the member is correct, the fees will be found in the rules of court.

Mr. Cable: I'm a little out of date on this, but doesn't the judge set the rules of court? Or are we saying the Cabinet is now going to be doing that now? I think the judge changed the probate fees the other day.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: The judge does establish the rules of court. This section provides that the Commissioner in Executive Council may, by order, make, amend, or annul the rules of court after having given notice to the senior judge of the Supreme Court.

The intent is to continue with the rules of court as are set by the B.C./Yukon Court of Appeal, in most circumstances in the Yukon, and on occasion by the senior judge of the Supreme Court.

Mr. Cable: So it's anticipated that the judge will be making rules of court for probate and administration of estates, except where the Cabinet, by order, either makes new rules or amends the present rules?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes, that's correct.

Amendment agreed to

Clause 114 agreed to as amended

On Clause 115

Clause 115 agreed to

On Clause 116

Clause 116 agreed to

On Clause 117

Clause 117 agreed to

On Clause 118

Clause 118 agreed to

On Clause 119

Clause 119 agreed to

On Clause 120

Mr. Cable: That section is acceptable to us, but I do have a question that I'll have to get in now because I think we're going to move to the title.

Is it anticipated that this act will be reviewed from time to time?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Yes.

Mr. Cable: Does the minister have any tentative timeline that she'd be working toward? Are we going to let this thing work for, say, five years and see how it goes?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, that seems to be a reasonable supposition. I can assure the member that if there are difficulties encountered, whether by the public or by the bar or by the public administrator and other officials, and if they are brought forward to the attention of the government, it would seek a way of dealing with them and resolving them.

Clause 120 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that Bill No. 57 be reported out of Committee with amendment.

Motion agreed to

Chair: We will proceed to Bill No. 67, An Act to Amend the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act.

Bill No. 67 - An Act to Amend the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act

Chair: Is there general debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There were a couple of questions raised during second reading.

I would like to inform members that there are 15 agencies and 78 people licensed in the security industry. The definition of "volunteer" has the same meaning that was quoted by the Member for Riverdale North in posing the question. Volunteers who are individuals who volunteer their services to help out with security, such as with large events such as Frostbite or the Storytelling Festival, do not receive pay for their work. They are volunteers and they are considered to be volunteers because they are not provided with a wage or a salary for volunteering to help with those events.

Mr. Cable: During second reading, I asked the minister whether the actual bill had been run by the industry and, if so, whether they had any comments.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the substance of the bill was reviewed with the industry and they generally expressed satisfaction with it.

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Clause 4

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Clause 5 agreed to

On Clause 6

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Clause 7 agreed to

On Clause 8

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Clause 9 agreed to

On Clause 10

Mr. Cable: Why is this subsection necessary? Isn't it simply a statement of the law?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I believe we had a short discussion on this earlier in the debate. The definitions of "prohibited weapons" have changed under the Criminal Code, so we want to ensure that we are very clearly prohibiting security guards from carrying any weapon prohibited by the Criminal Code.

Mr. Cable: Why would it be necessary for this government to do that? Wouldn't it already be done by the Criminal Code?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, both section 9 and section 10 have to do with certainty. Providing the current wording in the Criminal Code, the heading, "Firearms" is replaced with the heading, "Weapons" in section 9, and we want to ensure that in the legislation we're clearly stating that security guards, although they are licensed under this act to conduct various security affairs, are prohibited from carrying weapons defined in the Criminal Code.

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Mr. Jenkins: Are these fines high enough to deter anything, Mr. Chair? It seems in a lot of cases, it's just pay the fine and go on.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, the member may want to suggest that the fine be higher. I would suggest that the fine will serve as a deterrent and that where a security guard or security agency is earning their living by conducting their business, it is certainly in their interest not to commit offences and have penalties levied against them.

The registrar will establish policies on how to notify people and give them a time limit to respond if they have any concerns about levying the penalty.

These are administrative penalties for certain offences, and I would also inform the member that that does not preclude the possibility of filing charges, rather than an administrative penalty, if there are found to be serious violations of the act.

Clause 11 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that you report Bill No. 67 out of Committee, without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Bill No. 66 - Auxiliary Police Act

Chair: Committee will proceed to Bill No. 66, Auxiliary Police Act. Is there general debate?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: There were a number of questions from members about the Auxiliary Police Act, and I have some comments to make in response to those before opening up for further questions.

Is there an intention to expand the auxiliary police program to some of the outlying communities? We hope that rural communities will have the opportunity to participate in the program and will be interested in doing that. The preliminary estimates on budget costs associated with the program from the RCMP indicate that the cost for establishing a new auxiliary member is approximately $1,500, which includes uniform, identity badge and training. The practice of ride-alongs has been one component of the program. Approximately 15 percent of an auxiliary's time is currently spent doing ride-along with members of the RCMP. It is expected that this practice would continue. The advisory committee that oversees the program will be responsible for developing activities and establishing the training that auxiliary officers will take in order to perform their volunteer activities.

The Member for Riverside asked about the role of the RCMP public complaints commission. The RCMP auxiliary members would also be appointed under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act so complaints against auxiliary members are referred to the RCM Police public complaints commission.

It should also be noted that the advisory committee will have the ability to deal with internal matters, such as performance. The work of this committee, though, in no way will reduce the responsibilities of the RCMP public complaints commission.

The auxiliary program will be jointly managed by the RCMP auxiliary members and Yukon Justice, through the advisory committee. The training standards will be established jointly by the committee, and the committee, as is set out in the bill, would consist of two RCMP members, an auxiliary member, and a representative appointed by Justice.

Both the RCMP and the Department of Justice will coordinate a campaign to recruit new auxiliary members within the territory, whether in Whitehorse or in rural communities.

The auxiliary members do not carry firearms and will not be carrying firearms. This is a community-based policing program that concentrates on promoting safe homes and communities. Much of the work of the auxiliaries has had to do with bike fairs, with snowmobile registrations, helping with crowd control at large events, and it is a community-based program. They will not be issued firearms or have training with firearms.

Members also asked questions in relation to the involvement of the auxiliaries in developing the legislation. The RCMP and Justice officials met with the auxiliary members to review the act on November 4, and auxiliary members were provided a copy of the act when it was tabled on November 22 and encouraged to contact either the department or the RCMP if they had concerns.

A spokesperson for the auxiliary police indicated that the act did meet their concerns. It is our hope that this program could be expanded to the communities and could serve as a blueprint for other communities. One of the reasons for proceeding with this act was to provide an opportunity for other Yukon communities to participate in the program.

Ms. Duncan: As the minister addressed my point first about establishing the auxiliary policing in communities, I'd like to lead off by following up on her point. The minister said in her response that the cost of establishing an auxiliary police section or individual in various communities, including Whitehorse, is about $1,500 per member. I would certainly hope that that cost, knowing that budgets for the RCMP are limited - is the minister suggesting that this is a deterrent to setting it up in communities? It was the lead-off point made by the minister.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: No, Mr. Chair, I'm not suggesting that that is a deterrent. The members, in asking questions during second reading debate, wanted to know an estimate of the cost of the program, and this is the information that I am providing. That was all.

Ms. Duncan: Fair enough. Could the minister say if there are any additional resources anticipated in the contract between the Government of the Yukon and the RCMP for the cost of auxiliary police members and to establish additional members in Yukon communities?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, we'll be working with the RCMP on their general budget. The auxiliary police program, although it does have costs associated with it, is generally seen to be both cost effective and a good way of encouraging community policing to grow within the territory.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, let there be no doubt that I and our caucus are very, very supportive of this program, as we've noted on many occasions in this House. And I was asking the minister if it is anticipated that the Government of Yukon would be making any additional contribution to the RCMP contract to also express their support and encourage additional auxiliary members in the communities. Are we putting our money where our mouths are?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, we haven't completed the budget reference work with the RCMP for next year's budget. Certainly, the RCMP are aware that we are in support of this program and we're both working to make it effective.

Ms. Duncan: The minister says they're working with the RCMP on their budget. Given that we have, hopefully, at the end of this session, presumably passed this act, is it anticipated that there will be an increase specifically designated to increase the number of auxiliary members in the Yukon?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, there may be. I do not have particulars of budget information with me at this moment to say what the effect may be on the budget in the future.

Mr. Cable: During the second reading, I asked the question if the department is actively recruiting now to enlarge the six-member auxiliary. Is the department in fact actively recruiting new auxiliaries?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, let me say, for the record and for the member opposite, that we are still in Committee debate on the Auxiliary Police Act, and it has not passed this House. There are no major recruitment measures presently underway. We do intend to provide communities with the opportunity to participate in the program. We know that there has been and remains a strong interest in the program in Whitehorse, and there have also been some calls from some rural communities. We do want to support the expansion of the program. There haven't been any new auxiliary police members signed up before this act has even finished clearing this House.

Mr. Cable: Well, there are six members now, of course, who have some sort of status in limbo. So, what I was wondering was whether the minister anticipates that there will be a certain number in the auxiliary, and has she taken any steps whatsoever to encourage people to sign up?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, I am advised by the department, which has been working with the RCMP and with the auxiliaries, that they anticipate having as many as 20 members involved in the program during the first year that the program is set up under the new legislation. I think, however, Mr. Chair, that we'll have to wait and see what does, in fact, transpire after the legislation has been enacted.

Mr. Cable: Well, does the minister's department have any target, though? Are we looking at 20 or 100 or 150?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, as I just indicated, we hope in the first year of the program to have as many as 20 members involved in the program. As the member has indicated, at the present time there are six auxiliary police members who will be affected by this bill when it's enacted. We anticipate that there will be some increase in that, both within Whitehorse and possibly in other communities.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, I believe my colleague gave general support to this act, the Auxiliary Police Act, and I thank the minister for the information. I am also seeking information as to what the minister and her officials envision to be the component of the auxiliary police in rural Yukon. Given that there are 20 members, that looks like we're going to be spending $30,000 on the cost. How many of those 20 members are earmarked for rural communities, i.e. let's just start with Watson Lake, Faro and Dawson.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, it's rather difficult for me to predict how many members will be found and in what communities they will be established. The auxiliary police officers are, essentially, volunteer members. What this act sets up is the rules governing their work. The auxiliary police may promote community safety and help with youth crime prevention programs or work on business and public safety programs.

I think it will depend, in large measure, on the degree of interest that people in the community have in participating in the program. We will make the information available. For example, there is a community justice newsletter that comes out on a regular basis. There may be an article about the new auxiliary police legislation in that.

I think that by promoting the program within the rural communities, we may see an increase in the numbers of members, but I'm not aware of how many people, in which communities, have already expressed an interest in pursuing the opportunity to become an auxiliary police officer.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, I wasn't pursuing with the minister how many people in each community were going to explore becoming auxiliary police; I was trying to get from the minister how many auxiliary police did she envision - or her department officials or the RCMP envision - would be based in each community - one, two, three? There has to be some sort of a formula. Where did the figure of 20 auxiliary come from? Was that driven by the RCMP here locally and is that just for Whitehorse? Where are these numbers coming from, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, the program, when it was first established in Whitehorse, did have more people involved in it than are presently involved in the program. There has been fair interest in the community of Whitehorse in the auxiliary police, and we anticipate that there may be an increase of up to 20 members involved in the program over the next year.

There isn't a magic formula that we have in effect. We want to provide communities with the opportunity where they're interested to become involved in the program.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, that gives rise to a question. There has to be something driving these numbers as to what is envisioned for the number in Whitehorse. The minister has come out and stated 20. What is envisioned in rural Yukon for, say, Dawson or Faro? Is it one or two or three auxiliary police members in each of these communities? What's the ceiling, Mr. Chair?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, what is envisioned is that we will do some public education about the auxiliary police legislation after it has passed this House. We will talk to the communities about the benefits of the program, because it provides for increasing both community crime prevention and community policing in a number of ways. We will help promote community education on crime prevention and community safety.

The auxiliary police officers may help maintain a police presence at special events in communities. When that education and awareness has been provided to the communities, there may be cases where there are two or three people who want to join an auxiliary police program in the community, and there may not.

The member's questions are somewhat hypothetical, and it's difficult for me to speculate what the level of interest will be.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, I know in my community, Mr. Chair, that there is a level of interest there. It already exists. It stemmed in part from the summer student program that the RCMP have had in the past, and there has been a good number of those individuals who started there and are now full-time members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. There are still quite a number of individuals who have expressed an interest in becoming auxiliary members as we speak.

What I'm looking for is the ceiling or the cap, because what I don't want to see is what's happened to a lot of these individuals. They apply and meet all the criteria of the RCMP after being a summer student with them, and there are no openings in the RCMP. They can't get in. The depot is closed, and this goes back and has been reoccurring now for quite a number of years, Mr. Chair.

So, if there is an interest expressed from rural Yukon, which I'm sure there will be, what I'm looking for is the minister's assurance that they will be accepted and given the training that is necessary and allowed the opportunity to become auxiliary police, given that they conform to all of the criteria necessary. That's what I'm seeking from the minister.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I think that I've already indicated, in response to similar questions from the member, that we do have every intention of providing rural communities outside of Whitehorse with the opportunity to participate in the program. As well, the member will know from reviewing the legislation that there will be an auxiliary police advisory committee that can provide advice to government and work with the auxiliary police force on what their duties may be.

I think that as we go forward with public education and information about the auxiliary police program and the possibility of it being expanded that both the communities themselves and the auxiliary police members - as well as the RCMP and the department - may have some recommendations to make about the nature of a program within any given community, whether it's Dawson City or Watson Lake, as the member was alluding to earlier.

Mr. Jenkins: Well, one of the other programs that I mentioned earlier was the summer student program. I would hope that the minister sees no reduction in that program, being that we're going to be seeing a number of auxiliary police coming into play. That was another very worthwhile program. That's not being displaced, I would hope.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, as the member has stated, the summer program is a good program, and it's also a very different program from the auxiliary police program. The auxiliary police program provides for volunteer members of the auxiliary police force to work in their communities on various crime prevention and public safety programs. This might very well be, and in most cases has been, a long-term commitment on the part of members of the public who have volunteered to serve as auxiliary police members. That doesn't displace the summer program where students are hired to work with the RCMP.

Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, just prior to concluding that discussion, then, regarding the anticipated numbers, the minister has indicated - and I believe this is just a best guess - that the anticipated response is about 20 members or so.

Is the growth of the auxiliary police force, if you will, in our communities then going to be subject to budget availability, because there is a cost attached to new members? Should this act pass, is there an anticipated response of 20? So, there are six now, there are about 14 or so anticipated as a beginning rush, so to speak, as the level of interest is very, very high when this is new legislatively, and then is it anticipated that future growth, after the 20, will be based on budget availability?

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Chair, both the RCMP and the Department of Justice have made a strong commitment to support community policing as a good initiative within our communities. We're going to make every effort to cover the cost of the auxiliary police force within our budgets. I certainly don't anticipate that there would be, within the first year of operation, a difficulty with the numbers of volunteers exceeding the capacity of the program to support them. There may, in future, be budget implications, such as the member describes, but it's certainly hard to speculate that that would be the case within the first year of the program.

Chair: Does general debate clear?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 66.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker: I will now call the House to order.

May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Chair's report

Mr. McRobb: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 60, an Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act and Bill No. 57, Estate Administration Act and directed me to report them with amendment.

Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 67, An Act to Amend the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act and directed me to report it without amendment.

Further, Committee has considered Bill No. 66, Auxiliary Police Act and directed me to report progress on it.

Speaker: We have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: I declare the report carried.

Hon. Mr. Harding: I move that the House do now adjourn.

Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 9:30 p.m.